By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University Hispanic Affairs Department members celebrated the accomplishments of Hispanic students and faculty while celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Portales.
The students and faculty members were recognized during a banquet by the members of ENMU’s Hispanic Affairs and Multicultural Affairs departments on Friday evening.
Former ENMU professor Julia Rosa Lopez-Emslie tried to inspire the Hispanics to be involved in education and in politics. Lopez-Emslie related the Mexican battle against the French to the recent marches for immigrant rights in the United States.
“We need to remember the importance of recognizing our brothers and sisters and defending them,” Lopez-Emslie said of the immigrants. “It’s a journey of necessity that our brothers and sisters have to take.”
Lopez-Emslie said the marchers have the same fighting spirit the members of the Mexican Army had when they fought the French on May 5, 1962.
Lopez-Emslie retired in June 2004 after teaching for 24 years at ENMU. She was the recipient of the 2004 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Women of New Mexico. Only 41 women had previously received the award.
Geni Flores, ENMU instructor of bilingual education, won the award for Outstanding Faculty member while Lambda Theta Phi fraternity was named Outstanding Organization. Mary Ayala and Thurman Elder were recognized as Outstanding ENMU Personalities.
Charles Britton, a Portales High School graduate in the theater department, was one of the Hispanic students selected for the Outstanding Hispanic Students of the 2005-06 school year. Also named were Cristina Barajas, Albert C. Calderon, Diana Carrasco, Louis Flores, Diego Espinoza, Maria Hernandez, Monica Jasso, Roma Vivas, Jessica Onsurez and Everetta Proctor.
“There are so many great students in the department,” Proctor said about winning the award as the math department representative. “It’s really an honor to be chosen out of all of the students.”
Proctor said she would like to be a high school math teacher after she graduates from ENMU.
“I didn’t celebrate it (Cinco de Mayo) when I was growing up,” said Proctor, a Raton High School graduate. “I’m starting to explore what my culture is more and more. I would like to be able to be fluent in Spanish.”
Diana Cordova, ENMU director of multicultural affairs, presented Nancy Varelas, director for Hispanic Affairs, a plaque for her work and dedication in helping Hispanic students. Varelas was given a standing ovation that brought tears to her eyes. Cordova said Varelas will be leaving the Hispanic Affairs office to go to medical school.
Entertainers featured during the Cinco de Mayo festivities included dancers from Muleshoe High School, Ricardo Monreal, an ENMU student sang and the Mariachi Nueva Generacion performed with violinists, guitar-players and trumpet players.
The city of Portales cultural affairs members will celebrate Cinco de Mayo today with the help of other local organizations at Lindsey Park. The festivities start at 11 a.m. and events are scheduled to take place all day with games, pinatas, horse rides and food. Admission is free, but there will be a cost for the horse rides, food and contest entries, and an entrance fee for the horseshoe competition that begins at 11 a.m. There will also be a car show during the Cinco de Mayo festivities.