TOPEKA (KSNT) – Washburn University held a Hispanic Heritage month celebration Thursday evening in the Memorial Union.

“I am here today to attend the banquet because I saw an opportunity to embrace and celebrate my culture here on campus,” Lesley Ayala, Senior Washburn student majoring in human services and psychology with a minor in music said. “Tomorrow is independence day for Mexico, so it’s very special. In Mexico they start celebrating the day before, to get ready for the big celebration. So here, it’s like a celebration away from home, even though I am from here (Topeka).”

Washburn President JuliAnn Mazachek gave opening remarks to the guests.

The banquet is sponsored by Washburn University Student Life, the Hispanic American Leadership Organization and the Multicultural Intersectional Learning Space.

All students attending the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Banquet will have the opportunity to win a one-time scholarship from MANA de Topeka. MANA de Topeka is a chapter of MANA, a national Latina organization founded in 1974.

“This banquet is about taking time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans,” Dr. Eric Grospitch, vice president for student life, Washburn University said. “And, recognizing that Washburn has a great population of Hispanic students, faculty and staff who contribute so much to our university every day.”

National Hispanic Heritage Month is annually celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States for recognizing the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the history, culture and achievements for the United States.