HCC Assistant Professor of Anthropology Vanessa Martinez and HCC alumna Stephanie Perez '06 were recently recognized by Governor Deval Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Martinez, along with other educators and leaders in higher education, was honored Oct. 6 for excellence as an educator during a "Recognizing Latino Educational Excellence" ceremony at the State House in Boston. Perez, an artist who graduated from HCC with a degree in Visual Art and earned a bachelor's in sociology at AIC, had her art chosen to be exhibited in the governor's office in Springfield.
"Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes Massachusetts' rich history of diversity," said Governor Patrick. "As we celebrate our differences, it is important that we turn to each other and recognize that these differences make a stronger and more vibrant Commonwealth."
Martinez, who is from Puerto Rico and lives in Sunderland, is teaching five sections of Cultural Anthropology and Understanding Diversity at HCC this semester while also pursuing her doctorate in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts. "The ceremony was an incredibly humbling experience," said Martinez."I think I'm a pretty good teacher, but I was like, wow, this is just amazing."
She was so blown away, she said, she thought the e-mail invitation to the State House she received might be a joke. "It's a bit of a cultural thing," she said. "As Latinos, we often do what we think is right without the expectation of grandeur or a thank you. A thank you is nice, but it's not necessary."
Perez, a Mexican-American, was asked by the governor's office to present seven paintings for Hispanic Heritage Month ceremonies in Springfield. "Hispanic Heritage Month is very significant to me," said Perez, now service coordinator for KEY Family Networks in Springfield. "Being able to participate in this event was a major milestone in my life. As a Mexican-American in this area, it was nice to speak about the importance of culture, family and accomplishments and what the Hispanic community can do to encourage each other to set examples and provide supports."
Photos: Stephanie Perez (left) and Vanessa Martinez with Governor Deval Patrick (right)