Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Luis Arevalo

Hispanic Heritage Month is an international celebration held from Sept. 15-Oct. 15. This month, we’ve asked faculty, staff and students to share what their Hispanic heritage means to them, as well as how the culture has shaped who they are and how others can learn from their experience.
In this Q&A, Luis Arevalo, a junior chemical engineer major with a Spanish minor, shares his background, culture and what Hispanic Heritage Month means to him and his family.

Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 
A: Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of year where we observe the unique contribution that Hispanics have made to the story of the United States and what our community has provided. Furthermore, we recognize and celebrate the sacrifices and successes that our ancestors have made and the current struggles we as a people are facing and conquering. Luis Arevalo

Q: How has this culture shaped who you are today? 
A: My entire identity revolves around my culture if I’m being quite honest. I am currently a first-generation student majoring in chemical engineering and without the support from my family or the examples of hard work I’ve seen from my mom and dad as they struggled to raise a family in a country where they didn’t even speak the language, I would not be who I am today.  

Q: What is something that you wished others knew about Hispanic Heritage Month? 
A: I think people tend to forget that a third of this country was once Spain or Mexico, meaning our diverse cultures have all played an influential role in American history and it’s important to celebrate that. Especially being from Texas, you can see the enormous impact that the Hispanic heritages have had on the food, music, culture and people here.  

Q: What advice (both personal and professional) would you give to other young Hispanic/Latino students? 
A: The most profound and helpful piece of advice that I received was to find a mentor. Essentially that means anybody that has gone through what you’re currently going through or anybody that’s where you hope to be in the future. They’ve learned the lessons, either from others or through their own experience and can pass on knowledge that you can’t learn in a book. 

Q: What are some cultural traditions that you hold close to your heart?  
A: Without a doubt, it’s Nochebuena with my family, which is Christmas Eve. The entire night is completely focused on family and the atmosphere has a warm, calming feel to it. We pray around the nativity scene, eat delicious foods like tamales, pozole and ponche and enjoy music as well as exchange small gifts. 

Q: What are you most proud of when it comes to your Hispanic heritage? 
A: I’m beyond proud of my people and their work ethic and in fact, I look up to Cesar Chavez and have held him as a role model from a very young age. His motto, “Si, se puede,” literally translates to, “Yes, we can,” and goes to show the emphasis that is placed on family and hard work throughout Hispanic cultures of the world.