CSUSB Professor Awarded Mexico's Highest Honor

Hot weather had little impact at the Mexican Independence Day celebration recently held at Cal State San Bernardino

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: September 25, 2014

CSUSB Professor Awarded Mexico's Highest Honor

Hot weather had little impact at the Mexican Independence Day celebration recently held at Cal State San Bernardino as nearly 750 people came for the festivities at the university's Lower Commons Patio.

The celebration on Sept. 15 featured live music and cultural performances that led up to the historic Cry for Freedom, "El Grito." The event was sponsored by the university's Latino Education and Advocacy Days conference and the Mexican consulate in San Bernardino.

The festivities also honored LEAD for its work and advocacy focusing on educational issues affecting Latinos at the national, regional and local levels and the conference's founder and executive director, Enrique Murillo, a professor of education in the department of teacher education and foundations in the College of Education

On the Upper Commons Patio above the celebration, a ceremonial bell had been placed that the Mexican consul in San Bernardino, Carolina Zaragoza Flores, would later ring and then give "El Grito" to officially commemorate Mexican Independence Day.

CSUSB president Tom?ís Morales welcomed the large crowd to the commons, giving his brief remarks in Spanish and English and closed with shouts of "Viva Mexico," which brought cheers from the audience.

"Today we celebrate 204 years of Independence for Mexico," Zaragoza said. "Today we celebrate the transformation of Mexico as a land of opportunities for all of us."

The ceremonies also included a brief speech by state Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, who was on hand to congratulate Cal State San Bernardino for its Latino Education and Advocacy Days summit, an annual conference held at the university in March that focuses on educational issues affecting Latinos at the national, regional and local levels.

Brown presented Morales and Murillo a framed copy of a resolution she introduced to the state Assembly that was ultimately approved by the Assembly and state Senate. The resolution, ACR 109, recognizes the last week of March as Latino Education Advocacy Days in an effort to raise awareness about the educational issues that impact Latinos in California.

Brown told the audience that it was important "to focus on education for Latinos. All of our young people must be educated so that we can move forward as a society."

Later in the program, Zaragoza presented Murillo with The Ohtli award, which is the highest honor presented to a civilian outside Mexico for "services rendered to the dissemination of Mexican culture abroad."

Zaragoza said "Ohtli" is a Nahuatl word signifying "open roads" and that is what Murillo had done through his work in education and the LEAD project to bring attention to educational issues affecting the Latino population.

Murillo was presented with a gold medal and a proclamation for the Ohtli award. He said he wanted to share the award with his parents who instilled in him a strong work ethic to succeed. He thanked his family and friends for their support and guidance and then talked about why he is a teacher.

"It is a vocation. It is a calling to teach, to raise awareness, to motivate and share in the growth of others," Murillo said. "We teach to give back to our communities so that they have the freedom to give to others. We teach to help our communities to give, to love and to live."

After the presentation, a group of students from the CSUSB Air Force ROTC marched up the steps to the Upper Commons carrying both the U.S. and Mexican flags. They were followed by a Mexican drum and bugle corps and drill team that presented Zaragoza with the Mexican flag, which she waved to the audience below after ringing the bell and giving "El Grito," calling out "Viva Mexico" and the names of the heroes of the Mexican Revolution.

Her shouts were to commemorate what happened in the Mexican village of Dolores more than 200 years ago, when the parish priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo, rang his church bell and yelled his cry for freedom from Spanish tyranny in what launched the war for Mexican independence.

The crowd then watched a telecast of the Independence Day ceremonies Mexico City.

Murillo founded and serves as executive director of the LEAD summit which has attracted considerable interest since it was inaugurated in 2010. The first conference at CSUSB was attended by more than 1,000 people, and viewed at more than 40 universities throughout the U.S. at town halls via webcast.

In the fifth summit held earlier this year, about 1,100 people came to the CSUSB campus. The summit was webcast simultaneously to more than 1,500 viewing sites in the United States and in 32 countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain and South Korea. The webcast was courtesy of LatinoGraduate.net.

The summit, according to estimates, has attracted 17.25 million viewers and listeners from throughout the world through webcasts, AM radio, Internet radio, public television, commercial television, cable television and social media.

Murillo, who also serves as editor-in-chief of the Handbook of Latinos and Education and is the founding editor of the Journal of Latinos and Education, served as a commissioner in the California Student Aid Commission and coordinator of the National Latino Education Network.

Most recently, Murillo was elected president of the Southern California Consortium of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, which is made up of all the regional community colleges and four-year universities which are designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions in Southern California by the U.S. Department of Education. There are nearly 70 HSIs in the consortium, which is the largest in the United States.

Murillo now has the distinction of being recognized by both the United States and Mexican governments. In 2010, he was awarded the President's Volunteer Service Award by President Barack Obama, and has twice attended special functions at the White House in Washington, D.C.

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university's Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit http://news.csusb.edu.

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