CSUN commemorated César Chávez Day with a keynote speech given by his granddaughter in the first annual César Chávez Service Fair.
The event, which was co-hosted by Unified We Serve and the Department of Chicano/a Studies comes two days before the state holiday that honors the farm worker leader.
“It is important to remember that my grandfather’s vision of education went beyond personal ambition and individual desire,” said Natalie Hernandez during her speech. “He reminded us that we cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.”
Music, salsa lessons, free churros and 50 non-profit organizations were the display along the Cleary Walk on Tuesday afternoon, which contributed to the celebration of the life and legacy of César Chávez.
“Today’s purpose for the first annual César Chávez Service Fair was to honor the man, César Chávez himself who really lived a life of service and we want to promote his service through getting more students involved in service,” said Justin Weiss, activities coordinator for Unified We Serve.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Southern California, Guadalupe Community Center, California Science Center, Penny Lane and the LAPD West Valley Police Activity League Supporters (PALS) were some of the organizations that lined the front of Bayramian Hall.
“I really enjoy volunteering. It’s something that makes me feel good and I’m happy to make others feel the same,” said Gabbi Neal, 18, undeclared major and member of Unified We Serve. “César Chávez is someone who really focused on volunteering and I feel like it’s something that should be put out there. It’s great because people who are less fortunateneed volunteer help.”
Hernandez said her message to students was that education is important, to never give up and continue their education.
“Let my grandfather be with them (students), to inspire them to do great things Just when they’re about to feel like they’re going to give up, continue to fight through that struggle so once they overcome it, they feel like they’re on top of the world,” she said.
Weiss said Hernandez, who works in Delano, Calif. with youth and mentorship programs, is a woman who is not only kin to César Chávez, but also a service-minded individual.
“She really is a provider of service herself just like her grandfather,” Weiss said.
After her speech, Hernandez said being the first keynote speaker is an honor because she has the opportunity to share her experiences with her grandfather and more people.
She added she and her family are often asked to speak at events and each request is special in its own way.
“Everyone celebrates and commemorates in a different way, so it’s an honor for them (students) to come an celebrate and acknowledge the holiday because a lot of people don’t,” Hernandez said.
CSUN clubs and organizations such as MEChA and Salsa Libre, which offered free salsa lessons, were also at the event.
“Salsa is one of the main things for the Latino culture, so for César Chávez Day, it’s great that we got invited,” said Marco Aguilar, 23, vice president of Salsa Libre and business management major. “It promotes the Latino culture.”
Dahlia Eisenberg, 20, communications major and a new member of Salsa Libre said the club invited students to the art of salsa and showing them who they are.
The service fair will be an annual event with a keynote speaker held during the Spring semester, Weiss said.
“There are a lot of people who are less fortunate than we are and there are a lot of things that we take for granted. I feel like volunteering puts us in a place where people understand that,” Neal said.