Hispanic Heritage Panel event. Individuals in Paul listening to panelists.

The Hispanic Heritage Panel event took place on October 11th at Paul College. For the event, the DEI Committee was lucky enough to have three business owners of Hispanic heritage as panelists: David Vargas from Vida Cantina, Victoria Carrington from Lilac & Aspen, and Max Pruna from La Mulita Coffee. Associate Dean Luciana Echazú moderated the event with great aplomb. All three panelists talked about their lives growing up, how they migrated to New England, and the ways they were able to make their businesses thrive here in New Hampshire. Speaking from her own experiences and from the comments of the panelists, Associate Dean Echazú  stated how “their heritage is what moved them to their careers” and how “sometimes we have to leave the places we are born to discover more about our heritage.” Heritage and culture are both important for all these panelists when it comes to their lives and businesses. This was expressed well when Victoria stated “We want to preserve our culture. We want Latin-x kids to see themselves in the art.”

Overall, the panel event was both insightful to the audience who attended and meaningful for those who share a common cultural background with the panelists. This can best be summed up in what a student wrote about her thoughts on the event:

“Like Max's parents, my mother has always emphasized the importance of obtaining a degree, believing it to be a crucial milestone for success. That's why I embarked on this academic journey, with the goal of making her proud, even though I acknowledge that alternative paths can lead to success as well. Leaving behind everything familiar, much like Max, demands courage. Learning a new language, and adapting to a different culture, all while holding onto your own traditions is undeniably challenging. The journey Max shared today made me reflect on my own experiences and the bravery it takes to undertake such a transition. Today's panel discussion has left a lasting impact on me.”

(Contributed by Deni Hatch, with picture by Micky Bedell).