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Sharing Her Culture With Heart

Fall 2023 was Maria Rivera-Guerrero’s first semester at CCC. Although she usually keeps to herself, her huge heart and compassion for others outweigh her quiet personality. She wanted to be involved in something that makes things better for others.

When she met Wanda Lawrence, advisor to the Student Government Association, Maria found something to be part of. Soon after she joined SGA, Wanda encouraged her to lead the planning for CCC’s Hispanic Heritage Month event. Maria knew her experience of growing up in a community of few Hispanics and feeling like she didn’t fit in wasn’t unique. She knew that other Hispanic students had similar experiences and were looking for a way to be part of something meaningful.

She used her experience and created an event that could begin to change things. “I tried to think of a way to show the different countries and avoid stereotypes.” She said many people assume that everyone who speaks Spanish is from Mexico. At CCC, we have students whose heritage represents many countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, and Maria ensured the event reflected that diversity. She heard people say they learned something during and after the event, which meant a lot.

What meant more were the connections she made to other Hispanic students who told her they wanted to get involved too but didn’t know how. She has already recruited several of those new friends to join SGA.

Helping others is important to Maria. “Hearing comments from other students about how I’m helping and making a difference is all I want.”

Maybe that’s why she feels a pull to study psychology. Once she completes her Associate in Science degree at CCC, she plans to transfer to a university and major in psychology so she can make a career out of helping people.

Now that Maria has taken the first step and gotten involved, she’s on a roll. She has already agreed to be the SGA president next semester and has lots of plans, including a second celebration for National Hispanic Heritage Month, where she plans to showcase more countries and encourage more students to get involved.

National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated annually from September 15 to October 15, honors the rich culture and contributions of Americans with roots in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. This year Maria led Cleveland Community College’s Student Government Association’s first sponsored event to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month. To learn more visit