The vice president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando kicks off UCF’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage month on Thursday, Sept. 15, by talking about the power Latinos yield going into the presidential elections.

Both parties are courting Latino voters who can play a big role in the coming elections if they get involved. María S. García de la Noceda will speak about the importance of being “presente,” which translates to being present and engaged. García de la Noceda begins her presentation at noon in the Cape Florida Ballroom of the Student Union.

But voting is just one of the many ways Latinos can impact the nation. From buying power to their contributions in science and art, Latinos are a growing influence in America. Hispanic Heritage Month – recognized by Congress – was established to share and educate the community about the contributions Latinos make.

UCF’s Latino Faculty and Staff Association and Latin American Student Association along with several other organizations on and off campus will host a series of events from Thursday  through Oct. 15. The dates were selected as part of the federally recognized period because they reflect the independence dates of many Latin American countries.

This year’s lineup includes workshops, presentations and panel discussions that explore everything from navigating change, the psychology of Hispanic/Latino Culture, “Am I Hispanic Enough,” Latino entrepreneurship, and law and disorder.

There are some art and dance events and the closing ceremony focuses on the same theme of ensuring Latinos are “presente” in mainstream America.

Jorge Estévez, an anchor for WFTV will close out the month with a talk focused on “Latinos Presente in Media.” That talk begins at noon on Thursday, Oct. 13, in the Key West Ballroom of the Student Union.

All events are free and open to the public. To get a complete listing visit and look under HHM2016.