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Heritage Recognition and Awareness Months | Resources and Programming

Student Affairs recognizes many heritage and awareness months throughout the year. Below are just a few of the months that honor the diverse heritage of our Penn State Community. 

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

November

History

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, also known as Native American Heritage Month, celebrates the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of the Native people and recognizes the significant contributions of the first Americans. 

This recognition began as American Indian Day on the second Saturday of each May. The day was established through a proclamation by the Congress of the American Indian Association's president on September 28, 1915, and was the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens. 

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Source: Library of Congress Native American Heritage Month website

Events and Programming

Penn State Student Affairs

Penn State Office of Educational Equity

Indigenous Peoples’ Student Association

University Resources

Penn State's Acknowledgement of Land

First Gen Advocates: Promotes awareness, advocacy, and mentorship in order to further support first-generation college students. They offer a mentoring program for first-generation students.

For more resources, visit our Community and Belonging web pages. 

Get Involved

Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities

Student Organizations

Please note that this is not a complete list of organizations. Visit OrgCentral to view all Recognized Student Organizations.  

Below are some additional student organizations that focus on minorities and indigenous students. Please search for the organizations in OrgCentral to confirm their status and to find contact information for the group.

  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  • Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Minorities in EMS
  • Minority Graduate Students in STEM
  • Minorities in Schreyer
  • Minorities in Sports Next: Penn State Chapter
  • National Society of Minorities in Hospitality
  • Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Chapter at Penn State
  • The Minority Association of Pre-Medical/Health Students
  • Writers Organizing to Represent Diverse Stories

Black History Month

February

History

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, pays tribute to generations of African Americans, celebrating their achievements and recognizing their central role in U.S. history.

In 1925 Carter G. Woodson and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. Mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all colors on the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.

The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation's bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. Since then, each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.

Source: Library of Congress African American History Month website

Events and Programming
University Resources

Paul Robeson Cultural Center: Provides programs and support services to encourage and cultivate the appreciation and celebration of the diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultures of many under-represented communities at Penn State.

Multicultural Resource Center: Provides individual counseling and educational services for undergraduate multicultural students at University Park.

First Gen Advocates: Promotes awareness, advocacy, and mentorship in order to further support first-generation college students. They offer a mentoring program for first-generation students.

BLUEPrint Peer Mentoring: BLUEprint is a peer mentoring program focused on offering cultural, social, and academic support to students of color.

For more resources, visit our Community and Belonging web pages. 

Get Involved

Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities

Student Organizations

Please note that this is not a complete list of organizations. Visit OrgCentral to view all Recognized Student Organizations.  

Below are some additional student organizations. Please search for the organizations in OrgCentral to confirm their status and to find contact information for the group.

  • African Students Association
  • Black Criminologists
  • Black Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow
  • Black Graduate Student Association
  • Black Male Leadership Symposium
  • Black Sports Management
  • Black Student Athletes at Penn State
  • Black Tech Leaders of Tomorrow
  • Black Travelers
  • Blacks in Politics
  • Bridging the GAP
  • Essence of Joy
  • International Dance ensemble
  • Loving our Curly, Kinky, and Straight Hair
  • Minority Graduate Students in STEM
  • Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Minorities in EMS
  • Minorities in Schreyer
  • Minorities in Sports Next: Penn State Chapter
  • Multicultural Engineering Graduate Association
  • Multicultural Student Nursing Association
  • Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association
  • Multicultural Women's Forum
  • NABA: The Organization for Black Business Students
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
  • National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers
  • National Society of Black Engineers
  • National Society of Minorities in Hospitality
  • Pan-African Professional Alliance
  • School of International Affairs Black Student Association
  • Sovereign Magazine
  • Student Restorative Justice Initiative
  • The Culture
  • The Minority Association of Pre-Medical/Health Students
  • The Multicultural Association of Schreyer Scholars
  • The Organizations for the Development of Africa at Penn State
  • The Underground
  • Women Racial, Ethnic, Diversity, Intercultural Network
  • Writers Organizing to Represent Diverse Stories

For a listing of organizations at campus locations, visit our Join a Student Organization page.

 

Penn State PRIDE Month

April

History

LGBTQ Pride Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

Nationally, the month is held in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, which was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Penn State celebrates in April each year so that the celebration falls during a time when most students are on campus.

The first U.S. Gay Pride Week and March in New York City were held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The concept behind the initial Pride march came from members of the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO), who had been organizing an annual July 4th demonstration (1965-1969) known as the "Reminder Day Pickets," at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. At the ERCHO Conference in November 1969, the 13 homophile organizations in attendance voted to pass a resolution to organize a national annual demonstration, to be called Christopher Street Liberation Day.

In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as "Gay Pride Day," but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation, the "day" soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events.

LGBT History Month

In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first "March on Washington" in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBTQ community during LGBT History Month.

Source: Library of Congress LGBTQ Pride Month website

Events and Programming
University Resources

Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity: Provides a comprehensive range of education, information, and advocacy services to students, faculty, staff, and alumni. 

Penn State Transgender Clothing Transit: Provides trans and gender non-conforming students the freedom to comfortably find clothing that reflects their gender expression and identity without the discomfort of shopping in a traditional clothing store.

LGBTQ+ Health Information: University Health Services (UHS), Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW), and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) strive to provide high-quality health care in an environment of inclusivity and respect.

Penn State Student Legal Services: Provides advice, referrals, document drafting, and other legal services to University Park and Commonwealth Campus students facing personal legal issues.

For more resources, visit our Community and Belonging web pages. 

Get Involved

Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities

Student Organizations

Please note that this is not a complete list of organizations. Visit OrgCentral to view all Recognized Student Organizations at University Park. Please search for the organizations in OrgCentral to confirm their status and to find contact information for the group.

  • Ally House
  • Gender and Sexual Diversity in Schreyer
  • Opulence: Drag Ambassadors at Penn State
  • Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  • Penn State Student Lion Pride Roundtable for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
  • Students for Cultivating Change

For a listing of organizations at campus locations, visit our Join a Student Organization page.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May

History

Asian American and Pacific Islander (Asian/Pacific) Heritage Month is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

The term Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, and Easter Island).

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month originated with Congress. In 1977 Reps. Frank Horton of New York introduced House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first ten days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. In the same year, Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 72. Neither of these resolutions passed, so in June 1978, Rep. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978.

During the next decade, presidents passed annual proclamations for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week until 1990 when Congress passed Public Law 101-283, which expanded the observance to a month for 1990. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450, which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

Source: Library of Congress Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month website

Events and Programming

Penn State Student Affairs

Penn State Office of Educational Equity

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Caucus

University Resources

Paul Robeson Cultural Center: Provides programs and support services to encourage and cultivate the appreciation and celebration of the diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultures of many under-represented communities at Penn State.

Multicultural Resource Center: Provides individual counseling and educational services for undergraduate multicultural students at University Park.

BLUEPrint Peer Mentoring: BLUEprint is a peer mentoring program focused on offering cultural, social, and academic support to students of color.

For more resources, visit our Community and Belonging web pages. 

Get Involved

Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities

Student Organizations

Please note that this is not a complete list of organizations. Visit OrgCentral to view all Recognized Student Organizations.  

Below are some additional student organizations. Please search for the organizations in OrgCentral to confirm their status and to find contact information for the group.

  • Ascend
  • Asian American Christian Fellowship
  • Asian Classical Music Club
  • Asian Undergraduate Student Association
  • Chinese Students and Scholars Association
  • Chinese Undergraduate Student Association
  • Elite League of Hospitality in Asia
  • Filipino Association at Penn State
  • Hong Kong Student Association
  • Indonesian Student Association
  • International Dance ensemble
  • International Student Council
  • JaDhoom
  • Japanese Friendship Association
  • Korean Gradaute Student Association
  • Korean Student Association
  • Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Minorities in EMS
  • Minority Graduate Students in STEM
  • Minorities in Schreyer
  • Minorities in Sports Next: Penn State Chapter
  • Multicultural Engineering Graduate Association
  • Multicultural Student Nursing Association
  • Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association
  • Multicultural Women's Forum
  • National Society of Minorities in Hospitality
  • South Asian Student Association
  • Taiwanese American Student Association
  • Taiwanese Student Association
  • Thai Student Association
  • The Minority Association of Pre-Medical/Health Students
  • The Multicultural Association of Schreyer Scholars
  • The Underground
  • Women Racial, Ethnic, Diversity, Intercultural Network
  • Writers Organizing to Represent Diverse Stories

For a listing of organizations at campus locations, visit our Join a Student Organization page.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 - October 15

History

National Hispanic Heritage Month honors the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans; it celebrates heritage rooted in all Latin American countries by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. 

The Hispanic Heritage observance began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100- 402.  

September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. 

Source: Library of Congress Hispanic Heritage Month website

Events and Programming

Penn State Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee

Penn State Student Affairs

Penn State Office of Educational Equity

Latino Caucus 

University Resources

Paul Robeson Cultural Center: Provides programs and support services to encourage and cultivate the appreciation and celebration of the diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultures of many under-represented communities at Penn State.

Multicultural Resource Center: Provides individual counseling and educational services for undergraduate multicultural students at University Park.

Penn State Law School Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic: A nationally recognized in-house clinic focused on immigration

Penn State Student Legal Services: Provides advice, referrals, document drafting, and other legal services to University Park and Commonwealth Campus students facing personal legal issues.

First Gen Advocates: Promotes awareness, advocacy, and mentorship in order to further support first-generation college students. They offer a mentoring program for first-generation students.

BLUEPrint Peer Mentoring: BLUEprint is a peer mentoring program focused on offering cultural, social, and academic support to students of color.

Latinx Leadership Institute: The one-year program emphasizes student empowerment, bilateral education, social justice, and exposure to the University’s organizational structure.

For more resources, visit our Community and Belonging web pages. 

Get Involved

Mentoring and Leadership Opportunities

Student Organizations

Please note that this is not a complete list of organizations. Visit OrgCentral to view all Recognized Student Organizations.  

Below are some additional student organizations that focus on Latinx students. Please search for the organizations in OrgCentral to confirm their status and to find contact information for the group.

  • A Pair for a Dream
  • Brazilian Student Association 
  • Caliente Dance Company
  • Caribbean Student Association
  • Colombian American Student Association
  • Dominican Student Association
  • Latin American Graduate Student Association
  • Latinx Women Association
  • International Dance ensemble
  • International Student Council
  • Mexican-American Student Association
  • Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Minorities in EMS
  • Minority Graduate Students in STEM
  • Minorities in Schreyer
  • Minorities in Sports Next: Penn State Chapter
  • Multicultural Engineering Graduate Association
  • Multicultural Student Nursing Association
  • Multicultural Undergraduate Law Association
  • Multicultural Women's Forum
  • National Society of Minorities in Hospitality
  • Project Haiti
  • Puerto Rican Student Association
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science Chapter at Penn State
  • Spanish Immersion Club
  • The Minority Association of Pre-Medical/Health Students
  • The Multicultural Association of Schreyer Scholars
  • The Peruvian Student Association
  • The Underground
  • Women Racial, Ethnic, Diversity, Intercultural Network
  • Writers Organizing to Represent Diverse Stories

For a listing of organizations at campus locations, visit our Join a Student Organization page.