Fresno State’s annual Bienvenida (welcome) in the Peace Garden from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, will celebrate the 206th anniversary of Mexican Independence Day and the start of Hispanic Heritage Month with two special guests: Alexa Moreno, a gymnast for Mexico’s Olympic team, and the Banda de Guerra from Mexico.

The Hon. David Manuel Preciado Juárez, the new cónsul of Mexico in Fresno, will also be a guest of honor who will introduce the gymnast and lead the historic “El Grito de Dolores” (Cry of Delores) declaration. Moreno, 22, competed at the recent Rio Olympics and is the first Mexican gymnast to successfully perform a double-twisting double back on floor exercise.

They and the audience will be welcomed by Dr. Joseph I. Castro, University president, at noon. Also featured will be two University cultural performance groups, the Fresno State Mariachi and Los Danzantes de Aztlan. Free tacos prepared by Taquitos Marquitos will be available until supply runs out.

The free, public Bienvenida launches the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month observance (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) at Fresno State and is presented by the Latina/o Faculty and Staff Association and the Latina/o Services Program of the University’s Cross Culture and Gender Center.

David Manuel Preciado Juárez

David Manuel Preciado Juárez

Cónsul Preciado Juárez, who joined the Consulate of Mexico in Fresno June 15, will share with students the history and significance of “El Grito,” the traditional battle cry issued by Fr. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla at 11 p.m. on Sept. 15, 1810, the eve of the fight for Mexican Independence from Spain. That 10-plus year struggle began the next day, Sept. 16, which is known as El Dieceséis de Septiémbre.

The two special guests the consul brings will add a special flavor to the observance, said Victor Olivares, internship coordinator for the Career Development Office who is the 2016 LFSA president.

Olympian Moreno – whose full name is Alexa Citlali Moreno Medina – is a native of Mexicali, Baja California. She also represented Mexico at the 2011 and 2014 Pan American Games and 2011, 2014 and 2015 World Championships. In June, she won silver on vault at the Anadia World Cup.

At the Rio Olympics this summer, Moreno competed in the last subdivision of qualifications, starting on floor exercise. She placed 12th on vault, 28th on floor exercise, 51st on balance beam, 59th on uneven bars, and 31st in the all-around competition.

Banda de Guerra (band of traditional war) is a marching band from Secundaria Técnica #20 “El Nigromante,” a middle school in Ensenada, Baja California. These bands perform military marches and precision drills as well as such ceremonial exercises as performing Taps. They are common in educational institutions, police, fire and military units, said Edgar Olivera, public affairs for the Mexican Consulate in Fresno.

The 24 student band members are in Fresno to perform at area civic ceremonies throughout the Central Valley in observance of Mexican Independence Day this weekend.

Other Latin American countries observing their independence anniversaries, or the beginning of the movement for independence, in September and October are: El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, Sept. 15; Chile, Sept. 18; Belize, Sept. 21; Puerto Rico Sept. 23; Cuba, Oct. 10.

Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, provost and vice president of academic affairs, and Dr. Frank Lamas, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, will deliver brief remarks on the accomplishments and opportunities available for Latino students on campus.

The event is focused on the 2,286 new Latino students (2,286 first-time freshmen and 1,354 transfer students) but all students and employees are welcome to attend, Olivares said.

This Latino cohort makes up 60 percent of 3,768 first-time freshman for fall 2016. There are 1,354 Latino students enrolled as transfers, 54 percent of the total 2,486 transfers.

As of fall 2016, Fresno State’s total Latino student enrollment is 11,576, nearly half the total enrollment of 24,076, making Fresno State one of the largest Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) in California. An HSI is an institution participating in a federal program designed to assist colleges or universities in the United States that attempt to assist first generation, majority low income Latino students. More than 267 schools in the nation have been designated as an HSI.

“This Bienvenida is carried out in the spirit of the campus’ commitment to diversity, acknowledgement of each students’ distinctive needs and appreciation of their cultural capital and how it adds value to the campus as a whole,” Olivares said.

The event begins at 11 a.m. with a DJ and a student resource fair. More than 40 student organizations and program offices will participate in the fair where they will provide information about the many academic and social activities and services available on campus that can assist students in their academic career.

The mariachi will perform from 11:40 to 11:50 a.m. when opening ceremonies begin with colors presented by Fresno State’s Army ROTC. A procession of students bearing the 26 Latin American flags that are represented at Fresno State will be marched in by the Banda de Guerra.

The national anthem will be performed acapella by Alejandra Tejeda, music major and member of the Fresno State Mariachi.

Lending the Bulldog spirit will be mascots Timeout from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and Victor E Bulldog III from 1- 2 p.m.

Los Danzantes de Aztlan, the Mexican folkloric dance program of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department founded in 1970 at Fresno State by the late Prof. Ernesto Martinez, provides the program finale from 12:30 to 12:45 p.m. The event continues until 2 p.m. with a meet-and-greet with Alexa Moreno and Victor E. Bulldog, DJ music, the resource fair and a raffle.

Other Hispanic Heritage Month events are planned by the Cross Cultural and Gender Center’s Latino/a Programs which published a calendar this week. (see CCGC website for full calendar):

  • The Queer Latinx Student Panel from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 21 in the Henry Madden Library, Room 3212 will discuss issues that are important to the Fresno State Latino LGBTQ+ community.
  • Parade & Voices of Culture to help kick off Cross Cultural Celebration Week from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, is a march across campus beginning at the Joyal Building and proceeding to the Speaker’s Platform north of the library. The campus community is invited to join the parade of students, faculty and staff in the procession of flags and showcase of cultural attire INFO: 559.278.2741
  • Los Olvidados” (The Young and the Damned)will be presented by MEChA at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, in McLane Hall, Room 121. A $3 charge per attendee and $5 charge per couple will benefit the Aztec Theater.
  • Día De La Raza Discussion from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at La Casita (Thomas Building, Room 111) will be hosted by Entre Mujeres and sponsored by CCGC Latino/a Programs & Services. INFO: Jovana López or Monserrath Sánchez or 559.278.4435
  • A Crushing Love: Chicanas, Motherhood, and Activism will be screened from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 4 in Henry Madden Library, Room 3212: Presented by the Women’s Studies Program, the film details the history of early Chicana feminist activists and how they managed their roles as both activists and mothers.

For more information, contact Ofelia Gamez, 559.278.4768 or; or Olivares at 559-278-1787 or

(Jose Diaz, University Communications news assistant, contributed to this report).

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