Hispanic Heritage Month Brings A Little Piece of Home to Hartwick
Rebeka Alva ‘25, president of Latinos Unidos Association (LUA), found her “family” on Oyaron Hill. Growing up in East Stroudsburg, Pa, Alva was immersed in her Peruvian culture. But when Alva decided to come to Hartwick College for the nursing program, she was moving away from her family. And for Alva, family means everything.
“Where I came from, my culture was around me everywhere, “ said Alva.”So when I arrived in Oneonta, I was apart from what I was used to my entire life. Through LUA, I have been able to appreciate more of what I have from home and have been able to show people more about different cultures. I also have been able to learn about different cultures and customs and this has touched my soul.”
In Alva’s first year as president of LUA, one of her goals was to make a “big deal” out of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15). She did – and then some – making sure the calendar was filled with a variety of events, such as authentic food from the Mexican restaurant, Azul Oneonta NY, and Spanish music, which Alva says, “feels like a little piece of home.”
Alva has always been about making a difference wherever she is. During this month of celebration, she has also encouraged LUA to support the Pulsera Project. Dating back to her years in high school, Alva has helped raise money for this nonprofit organization that educates, empowers and connects Central American artists with students in more than 3,600 U.S. schools through the sale of colorful hand-woven bracelets, or “pulseras.”
While Hispanic Heritage Month officially comes to a close in a few days, the celebration will continue. Dia de Los Muertos Ofrenda, hosted by the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) and LUA, will celebrate and honor the souls of loved ones who have passed. The campus community is invited to bring in or email a photo of a loved one they would like to honor. The photo will be added to a Dia de Los Muertos – Day of the Dead – display in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Center in honor of those who have passed away.
Alva credited the DIB and multiple departments, including the Spanish Program, for making Hispanic Heritage Month a success. But as she notes, she couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of her Hartwick family. In fact, she makes it her business to regularly remind all new club members that “missing family is okay, but always know. You have a family here.”
The Hartwick community has certainly noticed all of the impactful work that Alva is putting in. In 2022, Alva, a double major in nursing and Spanish, was awarded the Sarah Keyes Bresee Scholarship for Native American, African American, or Hispanic American Students. Established by Marilyn Keyes Roper in memory of her mother, Sarah Keyes Bresee, the scholarship is awarded to a second or third-year student who has created or implemented activities at Hartwick College that advance the awareness and appreciation of their heritage. She also received the Modern and Classical Languages Department Prize, which is given in recognition of outstanding work. Additionally, Alva was honored by Hartwick’s Student Government Association with the Emerging Leader award.
For more information about upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month events, including documentary screenings and a virtual conference, visit the website.