New Jersey City University interim President Andrés Acebo, administrators, faculty, staff, students and community members were joined on campus by New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Brian Bridges and state leaders for the culminating event of Hispanic Heritage Month last Thursday.
The annual celebration, which lasts from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is a significant time at NJCU, where the university celebrates the integral role that the Hispanic community plays at the oldest minority- and Hispanic-serving institution in the state — located in the most ethnically diverse city in the country.
NJCU’s undergraduate population is 45% Latinx and 54% first-generation.
“I thank Secretary Brian Bridges, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Comanto and the entire Office of the Secretary of Higher Education team for celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with our remarkable students, staff and faculty,” Acebo said. “During their visit, they witnessed firsthand the vibrancy of our campus community and the pivotal role the university and its mission plays in their daily lives. I know that all of our students who participated will not soon forget the opportunity to have shared time and space with educational leaders who choose to make their lives work the fulfillment of their promise.
Acebo opened the day of celebration with the raising of the multicultural Latino flag by the Council on Hispanic Affairs on the front lawn of Hepburn Hall on John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
A joint resolution from the state of New Jersey and the state Senate and General Assembly was bestowed by Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hoboken) on behalf of Chaparro, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) and Sen. Brian Stack (D-Jersey City), commending and recognizing Acebo’s leadership since becoming president in January.
Acebo surprised Chaparro by presenting her with the New Jersey City University Presidential Medallion in recognition of her commitment to the university, the NJCU community, Hudson County and the 33rd Legislative District since she was elected in 2015.
Bridges then joined Acebo — the only current Latino or Hispanic president in the state of New Jersey — for a student-centered question-and-answer session with the university’s Latino student leaders.
“Students are central to state’s work, so it’s important that we engage them to hear about their experiences and share how the state is working to champion their postsecondary success,” Bridges said. “Contributions and personal stories offered by students reinforce the importance of New Jersey’s state-level investments in higher education, which are working to ensure college is more accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds. We appreciate the opportunity to be alongside the NJCU community to mark the important celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and elevate the Latinx experience in higher education.”