The Department of English, Philosophy and Modern Languages wrapped up the spring semester with a final guest speaker that ended their semester-long Panhandle Hispanic Culture and Leadership Lecture Series.
Three guest speakers – whose Hispanic heritage helped shape who they are as leaders – visited the WTAMU campus to discuss with students the importance of hard work, self-confidence and heritage.
“I think it’s wonderful for students and I think it’s great for the community,” Dr. Bonnie MacDonald, department head of EPML, said. “As a department, as a college and as a university, we seek every opportunity we can find to create outreach opportunities.”
The first guest speaker of the semester was Evelina Solis, a motivational speaker from Dallas whose academic and coaching resource, Sol2Soul, has inspired other faculty and college students around the region.
“She’s Hispanic and she travels around to regional universities to motivate or talk about student leadership,” Assistant Professor of Spanish and Spanish Program Director Dr. Andrew Reynolds said.The other two speakers provided more of a local flare to the series.
Roy Urrutia is the Director of Public Affairs of Atmos Energy West Texas Division and focused his discussion on what it means to be Latino in his lecture titled Mexican-American, Chicano, Hispanic, Latino; Really, Who Are We?
Lilia Escajeda, Amarillo City Commissioner as of 2011, climbed the ranks in the financial world to land herself a director’s position of Amarillo National Bank. It is a feat that was rarely accomplished for a woman in the 1970s, according to Reynolds.
“The obstacles that people have to overcome as immigrants really resonate well with a lot of students who are kind of in the same boat,” Reynolds said. “I think they see a lot of people struggling in the community and they’re here trying to better themselves…and sometimes they need these people who have gone through these same trials to serve as examples. It inspired a lot of students.”
Senior Bilingual Education major Isabel Ramirez got to sit down and talk with Lilia Escajada for a one-on-one conversation.
“She motivated us in so many ways,” Ramirez said. “She told us not to walk with our head low, but to always feel that we were somebody and to walk with your head up high and conquer the world.”
Professors and administrators of the EMPL department had been thinking of developing a lecture series for years, according to MacDonald, but Reynolds put that thought to action when he became program director.
“There was a lack, I think, of contact between the Hispanic program here and the Hispanic students in general,” Reynolds said. “I really wanted them to come and share their experiences and the importance of the Spanish language…how they were raised up and how that’s kind of a core of their identity.”