Students, staff, faculty celebrate at 27th Latino Unity Dinner

October 16, 2019

More than 170 faculty, staff, students, and alumni joined together Oct.18 for the 27th Latino Unity Dinner, which included performances from students and student organizations, as well as a keynote address from Cornell alumna Calie Santana '98.

A few years after its inception in 1987, the Latina/o Studies Program (LSP) began holding the yearly dinner to celebrate Latino Heritage Month. Over the years, the celebration has grown larger and more festive, and has become a key student-driven event for LSP. This year’s theme was "We're Building the World We Need/La Unión Hace la Fuerza", a theme the student planning committee selected. The theme was reflected in the essays, performances and speeches throughout the night.

"I’m so honored to share this evening with you. Thank you so much to Professor Debra Castillo and to Marti Dense, for giving me this honor and allowing me to share with you not only who I am, but what the time of this great school has provided me in molding of who I am," Santana said. I was barely 17 when I became a Cornellian. For those 4 years, on this hill far above Cayuga’s waters, there was a clash of sorts, a kind of nuclear fusion between me, and this place.

Cali Santana

Oni contreras '20 said what she liked most from the evening was the "importance of having a women in stem as the keynote speaker and the representation of different cultures amongst the perfornances."

A special moment at the mocktail reception was a celebration and recognition of the first Latino-led, Program House Endownment that raised $100,000 for the Latino Living Center.

Also at the dinner, Eric Garcia ’20, Hotel Administration, was named the winner of the Marti Dense Student Leadership Award.

Eric Garcia image
If we come together, it does not have to be lonely at the top.
Leadership is not about how far you can get but also about
how far you get bring the people with you. The greatest
leaders are remembered by how they were able to inspire
people, even in the darkest of hours.

The student-led effort in planning for the dinner began in February with the committee of 10 students and two staff members meeting bi-weekly in the spring and weekly starting this fall.

The event is funded by the Latina/o Studies Program, with support from the Latino Living Center, La Asociacion Latina, Campus Life Marketing and Communications, Cornell Latino Alumni Association (CLAA), Diversity Alumni Programs.

Eric Garcia receives award