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The University of Tennessee will host a series of events in September and October as part of national Hispanic Heritage Month.

The activities will highlight Latino culture in East Tennessee.

Loida Velazquez, UT adjunct professor of educational psychology, said one of the best-known events will be the Hispanic Heritage Festival, 12 – 5 p.m. Oct. 9 on the University Center Plaza.

“There will be tables set up featuring food, artwork, jewelry, videos and cultural displays from different Latin American countries,” Velazquez said.

The university is co-sponsoring the month with Hora Latina, a local Hispanic group whose name means “Latin Hour” in Spanish.

Lambda Theta Alpha, the UT Latin sorority, also is a co-sponsor.

Velazquez said UT’s help with the festival has been invaluable.

“In the past, we held the celebration in churches and community meeting spaces, but two years ago UT opened its doors to us and provided space and assistance,” Velazquez said. “Now we can combine our programs with cultural events that only the university can offer.”

Supporting the festival is not only a good thing for UT to do for the local Hispanic community, Velazquez said, it also is a good recruiting tool for the university.

“UT now is much more visible with the Latino community, which has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years,” Velazquez said.

“It’s not only migrant workers moving to East Tennessee, it’s second- and third-generation Latino professionals attracted by the economy and the needs of the community,” she said.

“The possibility is that UT will become their first choice for higher education when their children are ready to enter college.”

Hispanic Heritage Month events include:

– Sept. 19, Hispanic Cultural Night, Tennessee Valley Fair;
– Oct. 7, Ballet Hispanico, Clarence Brown Theatre;
– Oct. 9, Hispanic Heritage Festival, University Center Plaza;
– Oct. 14, DOE Hispanic Heritage Luncheon, Oak Ridge;
– Oct. 30, Putumayo Presents Latinas: Women in Latin America, University Center Auditorium.