Since Sept. 15, NJIT has been celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. This period, which lasts until Oct. 15, commemorates the countless contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to the United States, from technological to cultural. Over the last few weeks, NJIT cultural student organizations have hosted many fun events that introduce students to different aspects of Hispanic and Latinx culture, including an introductory Zumba Night and a Jerk Social by CaribSO with free spicy wings and dancing.
An organization that plays a special role in Hispanic Heritage Month is the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. They have taken a leading initiative in organizing events that are both professional-oriented and lighthearted, including Latin Night and the Career Fair Tips series. The organization’s primary goal is to serve the Hispanic community at NJIT by empowering them to develop their full professional and personal potential. This is done through increasing STEM awareness, access and support for Hispanic and Latinx students. In the future, they aim to make the society an effective voice for NJIT students, mainly by expanding engagement through in-person events.
The organization has plenty of workshops, activities and events coming up for Hispanic and Latinx students as well as for the general NJIT community. The professional development events include resume reviews, elevator pitches and interview preparation. However, they also host activities that are meant to get students in touch with their culture. Recently, the society hosted Latin Night, an event with a live DJ and free food. In the future, they plan to hold Noche de los Muertos, a Halloween event with a costume contest, food and dance, as well as an adaptation of 12 Corazones, a game show where twelve singles representing the twelve zodiac symbols try to find a partner. Until then, students can visit Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers in its office, Campus Center, Room B65, to hang out and have fun!
To boost the enrollment of Hispanic and Latinx students, NJIT pioneered the Hispanic and Latinx Leadership Council earlier in the year. The council’s goal is to increase the enrollment of Hispanic and Latinx students from 20% to 25% by 2025, therefore federally qualifying NJIT as a Hispanic-serving institution. Council members will also advocate for NJIT, mentor Hispanic STEM high school students and strengthen ties to Hispanic and Latinx alumni, groups and companies. Heading the council is Robert Medina ‘75, principal of Medina 43 Business Strategies. He hopes to develop the tremendous potential of Hispanic and Latinx students at NJIT and the overall New Jersey community, especially as such support systems were often not present previously. Under his leadership, the council will head professional development initiatives that allow Hispanic and Latinx students to connect with businesses and local companies, deepening NJIT’s connections with New Jersey communities and industry.
Another NJIT alumna on the council is Elisa Charters ’92 and ‘93, principal at EAC Business International and president of Latina Surge International. Her vision for the council is one that forms deeper bonds between NJIT and its Hispanic and Latinx students. “First and foremost, it’s about connectivity,” she said. “For alumni, students and the NJIT community overall, it’s a platform to create stronger relationships and bonds so that we can all support each other.” She also specified that the council is not just limited to the Hispanic and Latinx community; rather, one of its purposes is to facilitate discussion among different groups on NJIT’s remarkably diverse campus. Various stakeholders have been invited to present for the council, including student council representatives and industry leaders. Overall, it aims to create a meaningful support system for Hispanic and Latinx students that other community members are still welcome to engage with, a goal that is especially significant during Hispanic Heritage Month.