Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight


Mercedes Morton:

My name is Mercedes Morton, I am one of the Career Coaches at the Evelyn K. Davis Center.

I was born in El Salvador and I identify with the diversity of the Latino Culture.

What is one cultural tradition that is important to you? The celebration of the Children Day= El Día del Niño. Many Latin countries, if not all, celebrate El Día del Niño, so we celebrate our children, some Latin countries celebrate this day on a different date, but it is a very popular celebration which I love, and I believe that this celebration is a very important tradition in the Latino Culture.

Why is it important to celebrate Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month? To celebrate the diverse culture and heritage of Latin American countries in the USA.

What is one thing you would like to highlight about your heritage? The value of family and the sense of community.

What is your favorite movie, food or place to visit? I love seafood. A place that I would like to visit in the US is Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California, and outside of the US I would like to visit Santorini, Greece.

Christina Fernandez-Morrow:

I am an Academic Success Coach with TRIO Student Support Services at DMACC. I work with students in the TRIO SSS program who need help with anything that has to do with succeeding in their classes that involve writing. I also create individual study plans and coach them on skills they need to as a college student like how to take notes in class, study techniques, overcoming test anxiety, and any other barriers they face that impact their ability to pass their courses. I also connect them to scholarship, internship and volunteer opportunities and help them prepare the necessary documents like essays, resumes and letters. I also teach COM 703, a business communications class.

I identify as an Afro-Latina/Puerto Rican.

A cultural tradition I love is the sharing of food. Many of our dishes involve several steps, ingredients not easily found on the mainland, especially in the Midwest so when we cook Puerto Rican food for someone, you know it was made with love and is shared with pride. The added bonus is that it's delicious!

It's important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month because there are so many cultures to explore and it gives us a time to learn about them. There are over 20 countries represented in the month, so there is a lot to celebrate. Without it, a lot of non-Latinos wouldn't know about the varied music, food, traditions, history and contributions Latinos have made in this country. It helps us feel pride in what we've accomplished as a people, even when the odds were stacked against us.

I would like to highlight the beauty of Puerto Rico. It relies on tourism so I can't stress enough how wonderful it is to visit. It has something for everyone. If you love art, head to Ponce or look around any of the major cities for the public art displays. Nature lovers are covered with the rainforest, various waterfalls, caves and beaches. Prefer to shop and live lavishly? San Juan has high end shopping and restaurants that rival any Latin American city on the planet. Prefer to have a quiet vacation where no one bothers you and you can unplug? Vieques or Culebra are the place for you. On top of all that, you can catch some of the livest concerts, festivals and street parties in nearly every city and the people-watching is like none other. You don't need a passport or currency exchange so it's as easy to get to Puerto Rico as it is to travel anywhere in the United States. Lots of people there are bilingual so you don't have to speak Spanish. There really are no limits, only possibilities!

My favorite movies are In the Heights and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Eddie Diaz:

I am the Site director at DMACC VanKirk Career Academy in Perry and a career advantage coordinator. My work revolves around providing concurrent enrollment courses to high school students both at the Career academy and at 8 high schools that DMACC partners with. In collaboration with other DMACC departments I also work to bring traditional college classes, ELL, HiSet, and workforce programming to the career academy.

I was born and raised in the United States and identify strongly with this country. Much of the work that I do is driven by a desire to help make our country stronger by providing quality programming to help people of all backgrounds improve their lives. As the child of Mexican immigrants I also identify strongly with Mexico’s ancestry and am proud of my parent’s culture, sacrifices and commitment to give our family a better future.

What is one cultural tradition that is important to you? One benefit of being a child of immigrants is that we get to pick some of the best traditions from each culture to celebrate. Our Christmas season is a bicultural celebration with Mexican traditions like “Las Posadas” that commemorates the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of safe refuge. It involves prayer, singing, music, and plenty of candy. A U.S. tradition that we embrace is the traditional Thanksgiving meal (and football game) that we host every year at our home.

Why is it important to celebrate Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month?Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to learn more about the contributions Hispanics have made to the United States. By doing so, it helps us understand that no matter our backgrounds we all have a responsibility to carry forward the tradition our ancestors have made to make this country “a more perfect union”.

What is one thing you would like to highlight about your heritage? 60 Hispanics have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the Nation’s Highest and Most prestigious military award for Valor in combat going as far back as the Civil War when the award was first introduced.

What is your favorite movie, food or place to visit? My favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption, it’s one of the few movies that I can watch over and over again.

My favorite food is chiles rellenos, if you haven’t had them you are missing out!

My favorite visit to visit is San Diego, California. It has the combination of great weather, good beaches, proximity to mountains, and plenty of culture and attractions. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive to live there.

Mayo Neville:

I am a Career Coach for the HiSET program. In a nutshell, I am an advisor for students who want to earn their high school equivalency diploma (back in the day, it was known as GED). I work with students who take our HiSET prep classes in English and Spanish.

Speaking Spanish has played a colossal part of my Mexican experience. Growing up, I did not always fit in with other Mexican people my age. What kept me connected to my family and my “brown roots” was Spanish. My father used to tell me that he would not have Mexican kids that did not speak Spanish. As an adult, I am grateful for that and now understand the importance of not only speaking a second language but keeping alive the tradition of Spanish.

Both of my parents are from Guadalajara, Jalisco. They moved to the United States in the 1970s. And while I was born and raised in Des Moines, I was raised in a “typical” Mexican household.

Hispanic Heritage Month is a great opportunity for DMACC/Iowa/the world to learn about the different cultures/peoples that comprise the Hispanic world and the icons that come from those places. Also, I find it exciting to learn about places I have never visited. It opens my eyes to landscapes that Iowa does not have.

Hands down, my favorite movie is Spaceballs! I love comedies and that one is top-notch!

Ivon Mihura:

I am an Information Specialist- ELL Advisor at DMACC’s Urban Campus. I also work with our Latino Student Club.

I am from Argentina. Our traditions are essential to me because they represent who I am, where I come from, and my roots. I can mention many, but there is one I will share, drinking, Mate. Mate is an invitation to conversation; friends and family gather together and share Mate for hours. Mate is a popular drink in South America and we drink it warm, but it can also be served cold. So whenever you visit a friend or a family member they will offer MATE.

Hispanic Heritage Month is important for me because I can share my culture with others, and they can learn about me and my country. When we learn about others, we understand each other better, we open up conversations, and get the opportunity to build relationships.

I want to highlight that we love to hug each other for support, comfort, and greeting.

My favorite movie is The Sound of Music and Life is Beautiful.

Nicole Marinero Cea:

My name is Nicole Marinero Cea, I am 21 years old. I was born in El Salvador and came to the United State at the age of 14. Currently, I am studying Graphic Design at DMACC and plan to obtain an Associate's Degree in Marketing!

My culture is indispensable to me, as an immigrant Latina, I believe it is important to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month for all of the efforts our ancestors have made to come to the United States looking for the American Dream. I believe our culture and our people should be celebrated, not only for our bravery and perseverance; but most importantly for our accomplishments that continue to make this a better country.

One of the most important traditions for me is New Year's Eve. In El Salvador, this holiday is spent with our loved ones with the intention to enter a new year with them. As soon as the clock marks 12:00 AM, we kneel and pray. We thank God for the lessons of the past year, for the people that are still with us, and pray that they will continue to be with us for the following year. During this holiday, we get to feast on our favorite foods (my personal favorite was pan con pollo) and listen to our favorite music, while we dance until the following day!

Marcos Lopez Abrego (not pictured):

I am taking ELL non-credit classes.

I'm from Mexico and I identify as Mexican.

I think that it's really important to celebrate the Hispanic heritage because we can introduce ourselves to the rest of the community how we are, where we are from and why we are so proud of being Latino.

And it can highlight our traditions, our values as a person, and our food.

​I really enjoy watching the sunset because I think it's so beautiful to watch.