Hispanic Heritage Month: Ms. Vasquez


Ms. Vázquez’s room is filled with the sound of Disney soundtrack music and student chatter, both in English and Spanish. On her wall is the flag of Mexico. She teaches English I and C&C, and just like her students, it is her first year at Enloe as well.

Her class is reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a Mexican American author. It tells the story of Esperanza, a Latina girl growing up in the city. 

Ms. Vázquez, like Esperanza, is very connected with her Hispanic identity. 

“It is a huge part of my life, there is not a moment that goes by where I don’t think to myself that I am a Hispanic girl.” Vázquez said. 

The United States is home to over 57 Million Hispanic and Latinx people, with over 900,000 living in North Carolina. Hispanic Heritage Month began as a celebration of Hispanic and Latinx culture, language, and history, but it has evolved into so much more in recent years. Xenophobic attitudes towards immigrants from Latin American countries, specifically Mexican immigrants, have created a great divide between Americans. 

Immigration and racial stereotypes are hot button subjects; however, Vázquez is not afraid to discuss these topics in class with her students. “People have a misconstrued view of what being Hispanic means,” said Vázquez. “They think that we are poor or lazy, that we are trying to steal jobs and illegally cross the border.” These negative stereotypes have caused Vázquez and many other Hispanic people lots of grief over the years. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time for people to celebrate the parts of their identities that may have once made them feel ashamed. 

“As a country, we need to be mindful of how we treat people from different backgrounds, and how that makes them feel,” said Vázquez. The boundaries that a student faces such as race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status are not roadblocks, but rather hurdles, and with effort and dedication any student is capable of overcoming them and reaching success.