Student organization talks about Hispanic culture


Students dance at “Despierta, Loyola.” The event was hosted by the Hispanic Music Appreciation student organization on Sept. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Gabriella Killett

Gabriella Killett

On Thursday, Sept. 26, the Hispanic Music Appreciation student organization at Loyola University New Orleans conducted their event, “Despierta, Loyola.”

“Despierta, Loyola,” translating directly to “Wake up, Loyola” from Spanish to English featured a keynote speaker from a local magazine. Director of Viva Nola Magazine, AnaMaría Bech visited Loyola and addressed the importance of her bilingual publication.

President of Hispanic Music Appreciation Maryann Herrera commented on Bech’s presentation. Bech immigrated to the United States from Columbia to study shortly after Hurricane Katrina and through her experiences, is spreading a powerful message, according to Herrera.

“You can be both a Hispanic and an American. You can be both cultures and celebrate it and be just as included in today’s society,” Herrera said. “One of the biggest goals of this magazine and online publication is not even just reaching just to that Latino audience but also to those who don’t even speak the language or don’t have any Hispanic roots at all.”

The educational aspect of Bech’s publication relates to the organization’s mission on Loyola’s campus. The main goal of “Despierta, Loyola” was to wake up the Latinx population in Loyola’s student body, according to the association’s education event coordinator, Olaia O’Malley.

“It’s about unifying a population that doesn’t get a lot of representation on campus,” O’Malley said. “We need to educate people that being Latino is not just singing “Despacito” and being a mariachi singer.”

The Hispanic Music Association is in its third academic year of being an on-campus student organization. The goal in its establishment was to change people’s perceptions of Hispanic music as being stereotypical assumptions, according to Herrera. That mission continues today along with a desire to educate Loyola’s student population on Hispanic culture in general, according to O’Malley.

“We have a culture,” O’Malley said. “We have history, and we need to put that at the forefront of our events.”

This academic year, the group plans to focus their educational goals toward making Loyola’s students aware of Latin influence of Caribbean music. According to Herrera, HMA’s goal is to make the educational portion of their organization, such as talking about Caribbean music, fun.

“You can learn just as much about all these different cultures and have a good time,” Herrera said. “It doesn’t have to be a sit down kind of talk.”

Both Herrera and O’Malley strive to shed light upon Latinx culture and wake up Loyola with their efforts.

“This year, Loyola said that we have the most diversity we’ve ever had, 50%, but what does that mean?” O’Malley said. “How are we encouraging that? How are we keeping that diverse population?, and by supporting events like this, Loyola can ensure that they are supporting that population.”

The Hispanic Music Association looks forward to putting on more events like “Despierta, Loyola” in order to promote the education of Loyola’s student population on Hispanic culture and preach its importance in society and on campus.