SXU Celebrates Students with Estrellas de SXU Awards
Saint Xavier University (SXU) is proud to be recognized as a Hispanic-serving institution and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth to a steadily growing population of Hispanic students while sharing their rich culture and traditions with the whole SXU community. During the nationally recognized Hispanic Heritage Month, SXU organizes a range of events to experience Hispanic art and culture, learn from successful alumni and community leaders and explore the heritage pulsing throughout Chicago.
"We are so proud to be a Hispanic-serving institution and enjoy the culture, contributions and commitment to excellence by our diverse Saint Xavier community," said SXU President Laurie M. Joyner, Ph.D.
Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15 when the country looks to the many profound and positive ways Hispanic culture has helped shaped the national character. At SXU, the month reached its peak when the University community came together on October 13 to recognize the accomplishments of Hispanic students at the second Estrellas de SXU Awards. Nearly 35 percent of the undergraduate population at SXU consists of Hispanic students, a number that continues to rise. Organized by Yasmine Zavala; political science sophomore and president of UNIDOS; Corina Salas; computer science sophomore and president of ALPFA; and Amanda Lopez, Ph.D., associate professor of history and political science, this ceremony recognized peers for their efforts in both academia and leadership and celebrated the growing accomplishments in the community. Not only were awards given, the night also served as an evening of cultural highlights.
"I am very impressed with the hard work and dedication from Yasmine, Corina and Professor Lopez who came together to execute a truly wonderful event," said Alexa Zaharris, associate director of Student Activities. "It is a wonderful opportunity for families to share in the celebration of their students' success, and the event is a perfect showcase of student and community talent."
This year, that very showcase of talent featured a range of unique cultural traditions, including an impressive display from Aztec dancers and the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council's Ballet Folklorico featuring SXU's own Mireya Villafuerta. Cultural presentations such as these are what make these events so impactful to both the local culture and to students coming from non-Hispanic heritages. These opportunities to share in the University's rich diversity are critical to Saint Xavier's Mercy mission.
"This event is the perfect chance to highlight the blended Mercy values of the University," said Amanda Lopez. "The Estrellas de SXU Awards highlight not only the students' academics and heritage but also their commitment to service and leadership. We are proud of our students' dedication to the Sisters of Mercy's commitment to human dignity."
That shared commitment is further emulated by the raising of charitable funds at this event. Students, faculty, staff and attendees of the ceremony raised money for families divided from one another at the Mexican border, answering the Sisters of Mercy's cause of immigration. Last year, money was collect to help victims of the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Organizers of this year's ceremony are already looking to the future and considering what other cultural displays could be included in next year's ceremony. Saint Xavier University could not be more proud of its students and looks forward to sharing all cultural exchanges to come throughout the academic year.