Hispanic Heritage Month

latinamerican flags reading Hispanic Heritage month.

Celebremos Juntos! The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences celebrates September Hispanic Heritage Month, and we invite you to honor the culture that brings warmth, solidarity and compassion to a whole new level.

Hispanic culture is so much more than fun dancing, extraordinary food and colorful landscapes. Figures of Hispanic heritage have made incredible contributions to society and medicine, making a difference in the life of others. This September, to honor our Latinx community, we’ll give you a portrait of some history, culture and prominent figures — and we’ll share with you different ways to get involved.

History of Hispanic Heritage Month

Drawing of Frida Khalo surrounded by plants and leaves. It has writing that says “Hispanic Power.”.

In September 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an executive order for the creation of Hispanic Heritage Week. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan extended it to a full 30 days of celebration. 

But September was not randomly chosen as the month we honor Hispanic culture.

During this month, several Latin American independence days are celebrated as well — in different and extraordinary ways.

For instance:

  • Guatemala lights up antorchas — representing the celebratory journey through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica — that announce Guatemala’s independence.
  • Mexico starts cooking delicious chiles en nogada to represent the Mexican flag: chile (green), cream sauce (white) and pomegranate seeds (red).
  • Chile opens fondas where people gather to dance, drink and eat with family and friends.

The United States observes the rich and vibrant Hispanic culture through festivals, shows, art, community gatherings and many more events.

Events and Resources at UB

Featured Event: LMSA and Office of Inclusion Presents

Background faded with latinamerican flags, reads title Latino Pioneers in Medicine, A discussion panel.

Date: October 13th, 2021

Location: Dozorets Auditorium

Time: 6pm EST

Cost: Free event!

Join LMSA and the Office of Inclusion on this Medical and Scientific Panel Discussion where we will feature a keynote address from international guest and thoracic surgeon Dr. Maria del Sol Garcia Ortegon, who is the first physician to perform a heart transplant in Mexico! Furthermore, our esteemed panelists include Dr. Margarita Dubocovich, Dr. Sergio Hernandez, and Dr. Raul Vazquez. Perspectives, paths and what it means to pioneer in your field for latinos today.

More info at lmsa.buffalo@gmail.com

Meet our Panelists

Dr. Maria del Sol Garcia Ortegon

Dr. Sol Garcia Ortegon portrait.
Pioneer on Heart Surgery

Mexican Woman, Heart Surgeon, First woman to join and lead as vicepresident, the Torax Surgery Advisory Council in Mexico. First woman to be certified on robotic cardiac surgery and lead and perform a heart transplant in Latinoamerica.

Dr. Sergio Hernandez

Dr. Sergio Hernandez portrait.
Pioneer on Medical Education

Creator of a teaching environment of openness, inclusivity, non-judgment, learning, and positivity. Continuinly making outstanding and sustaining contributions to resident education in psychiatry. 

Dr. Raul Vazquez

Dr. Raul Vazquez portrait.
Pioneer on Public Health

University at Buffalo Medical School graduate. President and CEO of GBUAHN is the only value-based care model in Upstate New York. As a community leader, Dr. Vazquez built a pioneer model for building positive outcomes for patients.

Dr. Margarita Dubocovich

Dr. Margarita Dubocovich Portrait .
Pioneer on Melatonin Research

World’s foremost authority on the brain hormone melatonin and the regulation of melatonin receptors. SUNY Distinguished Professor, she is the first female faculty member in the Jacobs School to receive this honor.



GSPHA poster for Latinx students includes QR for sign up.

Salsa Night

couples dancing salsa in a club.

Save the date to salsa with SNMA/LMSA 

Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month

Now offering a salsa lesson and free dancing for all. Are you ready for it? Start practicing your dancing moves. Don't miss it!

Fred Astaire Dance Studio: 5443 Sheridan Drive, Williamsville, New York
Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 4pm

Cost: $15.00

“You are not lucky to be here. The world needs your perspective. They are lucky to have you.”

— Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Movie Night

movie night in the heights poster.

Join us to watch

"In The Heights"

A film version of the Broadway musical in which Usnavi, a sympathetic New York bodega owner, saves every penny every day as he imagines and sings about a better life.

Free Snacks! Free Drinks! Free Entry!

Date: Saturday, September 25, 2021

Time: 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Location: Dozoretz Auditorium - Jacobs School

Cost: FREE

Presenter: LMSA

Sponsor: Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement

Affinity Groups

Network, reach out or simply be part of something new.

These resources within UB will help you reach a new level of cultural competency in the Hispanic community:

Learn Some Spanish With Us

Need to polish your medical Spanish skills? We are here to help!


Abdominal pain


Helpful and compassionate phrases

In English

Does your stomach hurt? May I examine it? Does it always hurt? Or just sometimes?

Are you feeling sad? How long have you been feeling this way? Do you have a hard time sleeping at night? Thanks for sharing how you feel with me.

How can I help you? I will try to find out. Need a translator? Do you understand? Don’t be scared. You will be ok.

In Spanish

Le duele el estomago? Se lo puedo examinar? Le duele siempre? O a veces?

Se siente triste? Por cuanto tiempo se ha sentido asi? Tiene problemas para dormir? Gracias por compartir lo que usted siente conmigo.

Lo puedo ayudar? Voy a intentar averiguar. Necesita un traductor? Entiende lo que le digo? No tenga miedo. Usted va a estar bien.

Fun Facts

Hispanic vs. Latino: Not the same!

“Hispanic” refers to people who speak Spanish and/or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations. It is not the same for “Latino” (or Latina or Latinx), which refers to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America. Know the difference!

American culture

A lot of “American” culture was brought in by Hispanics: cowboy hats, names like the states of Colorado or Florida, barbecue (originated between the Spanish and the Caribbean traditions) and even the dollar sign, derived from symbols related to the Spanish currency circulating in the American colonies.

Populating the U.S.

In the United States, Hispanics have reached around 60.6 million, equivalent to 18.5 percent of the entire population of the United States. It is expected that by 2050 this number will rise to 30 percent.

Those ‘weird’ tildes

The Spanish language uses tildes in some vowels, to accent that syllable in some words. The grammar is at times complex. But did you know the weird line above the n is a tilde as well? Do you know how to pronounce it? Show your skills the next time you have the opportunity!

Honoring Hispanic Scientists

The field of medicine and science would not be the same if it was not for the contributions that multiple Hispanics have made to their fields. Please take a moment to learn about some of the most prominent Hispanic figures we would like to honor for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month.

Severo Ochoa portrait.
Antonia Novello Portrait.
Helen Rodriguez Frias Portrait.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal portrait.

Severo Ochoa

A Spanish medical doctor, biochemist and educator. Ochoa’s research has dealt mainly with enzymatic processes in biological oxidation and synthesis and the transfer of energy. He obtained the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1959 for his “discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid.”

Antonia Novello

A Puerto Rican physician and public health administrator. Novello served as 14th Surgeon General of the United States from 1990 to 1993, becoming the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as Surgeon General. She also served as Coordinator for AIDS Research for Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In addition, Novello made major contributions to the drafting and enactment of the Organ Transplantation Procurement Act of 1984.

Helen Rodríguez Trías

A public health expert and women’s rights activist. Born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, she is the first Latina director of the American Public Health Association. She became aware that unsuspecting Puerto Rican women were being sterilized and that the United States was using Puerto Rico as a laboratory for the development of birth control technology. In 1970, she founded a Committee to End Sterilization Abuse. 

Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Santiago Ramón y Cajal was a Spanish neuroscientist, pathologist and histologist specializing in neuroanatomy and the central nervous system. He and Camillo Golgi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906. Ramón y Cajal was the first person of Spanish origin to win a scientific Nobel Prize.

Hispanic Guide in Buffalo

Get Involved! Participa!

Special Acknowledgement

Our Hispanic Heritage Month webpage was built in collaboration with LMSA and the Student National Medical Association. Special thanks to all the individuals that contributed with ideas, information and links.