HSU Honors Latinx Students, Language, and Community

Strengthening ties between the local Latinx community and Latinx students at Humboldt State, the University is celebrating Latinx Heritage Month through October 15. A Hispanic-Serving Institution since 2013, HSU is also proud to host three bilingual publications as part of the University’s broad effort to elevate diverse and powerful voices.

Led by El Centro Académico Cultural, several Latinx Heritage Month events this October will provide opportunities to raise awareness and empowerment within the Latinx community. Located on the HSU campus, El Centro works with all students in navigating pathways to success that honors and respects their cultural and historical trajectory.

“Latinx Heritage Month is important because it recognizes the contributions and influence of Latinx people to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States,” said Fernando Paz, El Centro coordinator.

HSU has been a Hispanic-Serving Institutions since 2013; the University has qualified each year since by consistently serving a student population that is at least 25% Hispanic. The designation demonstrates HSU’s commitment to focus on student success for all students, including Latinx, first-generation, and low-income students. In September, HSI Week was observed by 569 colleges and universities across the nation in conjunction with Latinx Heritage Month. Currently, 32% of HSU’s student body identifies as Hispanic.

HSI’s play a critical role in educating and empowering Latinx youth,” says Paz.


An essential platform for Latinx voices at HSU are the University’s three bilingual publications: the Toyon Literary Magazine, published in both English and Spanish; El Leñador, a bilingual monthly newspaper launched in 2013; and CouRageouS Cuentos, a student journal published by the Department of Critical Race, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Toyon’s most recent volume was published under the theme, “De Dos Lados,” which means two-sided in Spanish. A statement on the Toyon website reads, “All people are complex and multifaceted. Some people are forced to balance between and within multiple spaces to survive. Our theme refers to those experiences and the resilience and beauty that can emerge from them.”

El Leñador is the only bilingual newspaper in Humboldt County. The student-run newspaper recently won several awards from the Society of Professional Journalists.
“Spanish-speaking people in Humboldt County don’t have many sources to turn to for news and information so we’re trying to bridge that gap, especially in the pandemic,” says Nancy Garcia, one of El Leñador’s three student editors-in-chief last Spring.

CouRaGeouS Cuentos is focused on publishing submissions of creative writing by students enrolled in the Ethnic Studies courses, “Chican@/Latin@ Lives” and “Growing up Chicana/Latino.” Additionally, students from Fortuna High School worked with students from HSU’s Promotorx Transformative Educators Program to also submit their writing to the journal.


And in a special celebration of HSU’s Latinx community, Toyon has partnered with the Music department to host Sana, Sana, a community poetry contest. Sana Sana is a short rhyme commonly used in most Spanish-speaking parts of the world as a “cure” for injuries, often shared from mother to child. Calling for hope and healing for the Latinx community, Sana Sana asked participants to submit a poem in Spanish or English this fall. The winning poem, announced December 30, will be set to music by special guest composer Carlos Cordero (The Happy Choir) and performed by HSU’s University Singers next Spring.

About El Centro Académico Cultural
Founded in the summer of 2015, El Centro is committed to student success with a responsive approach, which includes the development of academic, intellectual, personal, and professional growth. El Centro is one of five Cultural Centers of Academic Excellence at HSU, which include the Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program (ITEPP), the Social Justice, Equity & Inclusion Center, and the Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence.