Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15, 2023
Hispanic Heritage Month GettyImages-1169799790

Dear Members of the NJCU Familia,

Today marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a particularly significant time at our university when we celebrate the integral role that the Hispanic community plays here at New Jersey City University. This year’s theme “Latinos: Driving Prosperity, Power, and Progress in America” offers us the opportunity to celebrate and champion the story of our community and how it drives prosperity, power, and progress on our campus, our state, and our country.

We are proud of our roots as the oldest minority and Hispanic-serving public university in the State of New Jersey. In the most diverse city in the country, NJCU mirrors the community it serves — a community from all over the world, with the resolve and resolute persistence of a heritage built on family and a spirit that is emboldened by its rich diversity and vibrancy. The Hispanic community is not a monolith. It’s a fusion of history, art, culture, diverse beliefs, and global experiences that traces its roots to indigenous civilizations shaped by the African diaspora and Asian migrations tied to the remnants of European colonialism. 

Enshrined in a collective experience, as rhythmic and melodic as salsa, merengue, cumbia, bachata, tango, and reggaeton, our community’s story reverberates the promise of our Nation’s founding ideals. Our stories and experiences enrich our stages and screens, propel our athletic spectacles, and unleash our art, science, ingenuity, and service.

On a campus where we are proudly home to the largest percentage of Hispanic/Latino/a students of any public university in our state and where about 60% of our students identify as first generation, this month-long annual celebration, from September 15 to October 15, is a recognition of the contributions that those of us bound by a rich heritage have made to the history of the United States, and the daily impact Hispanics make on the culture, economy, and prosperity of our nation.

For the first time this year, I have the privilege to serve as a president of a university where Hispanics have left an undeniably vital mark on an institution that is nearly 100 years old. It is a source of personal pride and earnest responsibility that today I am the only Hispanic university president in the State of New Jersey and only the second in state history. It’s the personification of how much more work we need to do drive inclusive representation.

As the first-generation son of working-class Cuban immigrants, un hijo del exilio, who came to this country seeking freedom and the American Dream, my own experiences mirror that of so many of our students. I feel a profound sense of responsibility to ensure that our students have access to the kinds of opportunities for mobility that helped me. That is a responsibility that is embraced daily in NJCU’s mission, as a university anchored in access by all who understand that higher education is the hallmark of life-changing opportunities, regardless of where your story began. 

Over the next month and the ensuing years, let us speak con una voz y con mucho orgulloof who we are, where we come from, and where we are going juntos.

We lose power when we let people convince us that we don’t have any. Our community is comprised of the youngest and fastest-growing and second-largest segment in the United States with a population of over 62 million. Today’s generation of college students, Gen Z, is the largest audience within the Hispanic community, representing 32% of the population, and one in every four children in the United States is Hispanic.

Today, the Hispanic/Latino/a community is a key contributor to the economic prosperity of our country, with a GDP of $2.8 trillion. If the community were a standalone economy, it would be the fifth largest in the world. In fact, Latinas are the largest group of women workers in our country. Latinas are also the fastest-growing group of women entrepreneurs in the U.S., starting businesses at a rate six times higher than the national average.

Furthermore, 19 million Hispanics are essential workers and Hispanic-owned businesses are a driving force of the U.S. economy, making up nearly one in four new businesses, and contribute over $800 billion annually.

El futuro depends on the success of our community. By 2050, one-quarter of the U.S. population will be Hispanic. By 2060, one in every three women in the U.S. will be Latina, and Hispanics under the age of 18 years old will make up over 30% of the total youth population.

Our comunidad is diverse and vibrant, with limitless potential and a spirit that drives us to lift up our communities each and every day. At NJCU, we are so proud to be a place where these students can come to thrive and yes – soñar. With an unshakeable commitment to providing our students with an affordable, high quality college education, we are committed to fostering mobility and uplifting communities from within our communities.

En servicio con mucho cariño y admiración,

Andrés Acebo
Interim President
New Jersey City University