Jesus Hinojosa, the president of Latino Caucus, said Noche Latina is the biggest event hosted by the organization. “The main focus really is to showcase the Latino culture. Whatever that is to the candidates,” he added.
Candidates will compete in three segments: monologues, a talent show and a Q&A session. In monologues, candidates will give speeches about how they relate this year’s theme, “Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling,” to their personal lives. The talent show portion will be a chance to let candidates’ creativity shine and during the Q&A sessions, they will answer questions on topics from recent news stories to their personal take on their Latino identities.
Once crowned winners, Mr. and Miss Latino are expected to participate in community service, host an educational program, maintain a good GPA, star in a Homecoming parade and assist contestants in the following year. Starting from this year, the winners will also receive scholarships, Bertha Castenada, the event chair, said.
Not Just Pretty Faces
Once two candidates are crowned Mr. and Miss Latino, they will “have a lot of responsibility,” Nathaly Martinez, a candidate for Miss Latina, said. “It’s not only a crown and a sash. You have to make yourself present in the Latino community at Penn State.”
“Being the face for the Penn State Latino community will just be a really amazing honor because I feel like we are not represented strongly here at Penn State. And sometimes it’s a little hard to find us. So being the face, I would like to change that,” Martinez said.
When asked what qualities she believes will earn her the title of Miss Latina, she said dedication and confidence: “It’s all the work that you put into the actual pageant. You only have that one day to show everything that you are. And if you mess up that one time, that’s it. And if you are going on stage thinking, ‘oh crap, I’m not ready,’ it’s not going to work out. So I think confidence is also very big.”
The winners ideally are “role models in their community, have dedication and passion and are proud to be Latino,” Castenada said.
A Universal Theme, A Common Struggle
“With the idea of breaking through the glass ceiling, we thought it can reach many more little groups. It can be more of a universal thing,” Hinojosa said. “It’s not just about Latinos this Friday night. It’s about all underrepresented communities on campus. It’s about everybody,” he said.
“The monologues are personal because they come from family and personal experiences that each candidate has gone through. And sometimes, that’s also what others in the Latino communities have gone through,” Martinez said.
Personal, Fun and Educational
“It’s us saying, ‘hey, this is what we’ve done as a community. This is who we are,’” Henojosa said.
“Noche Latina is a great way to show people not only our culture but also some barriers we might have that we overcome,” event co-chair Samantha Fortier said. “It’s a good way to see another side of Penn State.”
“As soon as you walk in, you’ll feel very welcome,” Martinez said of the event.
There’s also an intermission where people “can get up and dance, even if you don’t know how to dance. It’s a very fun atmosphere,” Martinez said.
Photo provided by Bertha Castaneda