• Leona Martin, emerita professor of Spanish studies, accepts her award from SU’s Association of Latino & American Students.

October 11, 2022

Susquehanna University honored two faculty members — one current and one emeritus — with awards recognizing their support of the Latinx-Hispanic campus community at the first annual Hispanic Heritage Dinner.

Awards were given to María Muñoz, associate professor of history, and Leona Martin, emerita professor of Spanish studies, for their work in supporting the Latinx-Hispanic community at Susquehanna.

Muñoz was the original advisor to ALAS — the Association of Latino & American Students — when in 2012 the group transitioned away from a Spanish language club to one that was more geared toward activism and solidarity.

“It’s been an honor to see ALAS grow and its members contribute to the strength of the organization. ALAS is still a young club, in relation to other longstanding student organizations, but the leadership of its executive board as well as its membership core keep building on its strong foundation,” Muñoz said. “All our brilliant young people are the heartbeat of Susquehanna University, ALAS members included.”

During her tenure at Susquehanna, Martin, who retired in 2014, was the driving force behind the annual Latino Symposium and related initiatives highlighting bicultural interactions on campus and in the community.

“Now known as the LatinX Initiative and with support from student leaders in ALAS, this important campus activity has evolved in ways that reflect current realities and major challenges for the future,” Martin said. “I know they will succeed as they strive to create tomorrow’s world, guided by the ideals expressed by the many flags that decorated the tables at the Hispanic Heritage Dinner.”

Other speakers at the event included Ashley Sanchez, president of ALAS, and her mother, Margarita Mota, as well as Mirta Suquet, assistant professor of Spanish studies, who organized the event with the support of Susquehanna’s Division of Inclusive Excellence and the Latinx Initiative Fund.

“Enhancing and fostering connections among ourselves and making productive alliances with other people of color and the SU community is very beneficial,” Suquet said. “We can bring our experiences and cultural and educational backgrounds to the tables where important decisions are made, contributing to a more diverse community.”

The dinner, which brought together Hispanic students, faculty and staff, was held in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.