What Hispanic Heritage Means to Me: Rising Leader Isabella Paez

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Student Isabella Paez smiling with a nature background.

Every year, we take time to appreciate Hispanic people, culture, and history during Hispanic Heritage Month. The month represents a space for Hispanic communities to celebrate who we are, and emphasizes the great diversity of the Hispanic community.  In America, Hispanic Heritage Month also serves as a reminder of how Hispanic people have positively influenced the United States and its culture.

Someone who is Hispanic is native to or descends from a Spanish-speaking country. More than 20 countries are celebrated in Hispanic heritage such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, and many more! It important to honor each of these countries and the people that create the diverse community within them. 

Hispanic culture is a big part of my identity, family, and life, and I am proud that it is. As a first generation Cuban American, I appreciate my background and what makes it rich every day. I take pride in the values and culture I inherited from my parents. Hispanic Heritage Month reminds me to appreciate the sacrifices my family made to uproot their entire lives for a better life in the United States. My charter school has a diverse community of students who enjoy the opportunity to share their experiences, learn about their culture, and celebrate their heritage. We showcase our heritage through art, food, music, spoken word, and school celebrations all throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. Every year, my school hosts a Hispanic Heritage Month show with members of our community such as the salsa dance group in my school and a local mariachi band.

Throughout this month, we highlight our influence in American communities and support the works of Hispanic workers, artist, and creatives. This month is a time to teach and learn about the Hispanic community’s backgrounds, contributions, struggles, and advancements that we have made through history. When celebrating my culture, it reminds me to step back and reflect on the importance of being who I am. It brings awareness to the opportunities the United States has offered many Hispanic families. Our stories have made us who we are today: strong, resilient, enthusiastic people with a rich, diverse history to share. 

No matter where we come from or what we’ve gone through, our Hispanic heritage stays with us and affects the way we connect with people and see the world. 


Isabella Paez is part of the 2022-2023 Class of Rising Leaders with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. She is a sophomore at Mater Academy Charter Middle and High School in Florida.