Valley Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

Valley Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating Mexican Independence Day
Submitted by Diana Lopez Rios, CMA-LPN, Clinic Coordinator

I was born and lived in Nayarit, Mexico until 1980s when my parents immigrated to the United States when I was two months old. They were following the American dream to give us a better future. They found themselves settled in Eastern Washington where they worked in the fields picking cherries, apples, pears, asparagus and worked in the wheat fields. Although I was raised in the United States, growing up my parents made sure my siblings and I maintained our Mexican roots and culture. Our family would return to Mexico for three to four months at a time every year. In order for us to stay on track with school in the United States, we had to enroll in school in Mexico as well. This is where I learned how to read and write in Spanish. It also helped me understand our Mexican history, which leads me to the date people often mistake.

Commonly confused with Cinco De Mayo, September 16 is Mexico’s Independence Day, a holiday celebrating the moment when Father Hidalgo called for Mexico’s independence from Spain in September 1810. Independence Day is now celebrated with music, festivals, parades, fireworks, and of course our delicious food. The celebrations begin in Mexico City where the Mexican president and the first lady oversee doing “El Girto de la Independencia” (battle cry) on September 15 at 11 PM. The tradition is the ringing of the bells at the National Palace in Mexico City where they cry:

“¡Viva nuestra Independencia Nacional! ¡Vivan los Héroes que nos dieron Patria y Libertad! ¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva Morelos!” (Long live our national independence, Long live our heroes that gave us home land and freedom, Long live Hidalgo, Long live Morelos.) After this beautiful ceremony, Mexico is ready to celebrate September 16.​

‘Nina’: My Resilient Salvadorian Grandmother
Submitted by Marina Martin, Utilization Management Specialist, Case Management

I am a proud Hispanic American woman whose life and career path was influenced greatly by women such as my grandmother, Claudina (Nina), from my maternal side. Nina was the village midwife by necessity because most women were not able to afford to deliver their babies at a hospital and her services were free. She grew up on a family farm with 12 brothers and started working on the farm at a young age. At age 14, Nina had her first child and throughout her life would have 11 more children. With her own experience, she became a very skilled midwife and was able to successfully deliver many complex cases without the assistance of modern medicine or state of the art medical facilities. Nina was a woman of courage and compassion and a role model for many, especially women. Her outlook was always positive and she believed that everything is possible with God’s help. She sustained this mindset until she passed away in her late 90s. 

I believe that my inspiration for working in the healthcare industry came from growing up around strong women such as my grandmother. Seeing her do so much in her community without a formal education inspired me to go further in my nursing career so I could serve others just like she did.

At the age of 15, I immigrated to the US from El Salvador and joined my parents in search of a better life. When I arrived in America, I was thrown into a world I could never have imagined. I started attending school struggling to speak English, and experienced what I now know is culture shock. However, just as my Nina did, I worked hard and resolved to overcome my challenges so I would be able to make a difference in my community. While attending high school, I had to juggle the requirements of my education with the demands of a job because I was expected to contribute to the family income. With leaving everything we knew behind in El Salvador, I was determined to make a better life for me and my family. I worked hard and graduated from high school in just three years. I was the first woman in my family to achieve that milestone, but the prospects for continuing my education were limited.

I married at the age of 19 and by 21, I had two daughters. I was still simply surviving and wanted a better future for my myself and my family. I knew that continuing my education was the only way to break the family history of women in poverty who were unable to obtain an education. With the support of my husband and community, I began the long journey of self-discovery and education. I obtained my LPN license, my RN degree, and my BSN degree. Recently I completed an EMHA degree from the University of Washington. I am grateful that both of my daughters have completed higher education degrees—​one of them specializes in pediatric nursing at Valley Medical Hospital. My desire is to continue touching people’s lives, such as my grandmother and other great women who have gone before me.​

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office

1 Comment

  1. Ellen Hoffman

    What a harrowing lived experience with a beautiful developing story of compassion mixed with fortitude!
    I am truly inspired!

Comments are closed.