Join us in observing Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, celebrating the culture and contributions of people whose ancestors are from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America. This month is set apart to recognize the immeasurable contributions of our Hispanic and Latinx team members, patients and community.
Festeje con nosotros el Mes de la Herencia Hispana, desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 15 de octubre, celebrando la cultura y los aportes de las personas cuyos antepasados provienen de España, México, el Caribe, Centroamérica y Sudamérica. Este mes está destinado a reconocer las inconmensurables contribuciones de los miembros de nuestro equipo, los pacientes y nuestra comunidad hispana y latina.
1944 - Present
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Dr. Antonia Novello to the post of Surgeon General of the United States. Not only was she the first woman to be named, but she was also the first Hispanic ever to receive the honor.
Dr. Novello was the first woman at the University of Michigan to be named “Intern of the Year.” Her dedication to improving health care grew from her own experiences battling a serious health condition as a child. She has led several public health campaigns in efforts to improve access to medical care for women, children and groups that have been historically marginalized.
1833 - 1915
In the late 1800s, Dr. Carlos Juan Finlay discovered that yellow fever is spread by mosquitos, opening the door for actions to eliminate a disease that could kill tens of thousands of people in one outbreak. He also was the first to realize that cholera spreads through contaminated water.
The medical community was slow to accept his theories, but he was tireless in his efforts to convince those in power. Eventually, his ideas were validated. Born in Cuba, Dr. Finlay attended a U.S. medical school before returning to Cuba to practice medicine. One observer described his ideas as “outrageous, courageous, correct.”
1922 - 2017
Eldelmira Lopez took action when she saw a need. She was the first Latina on the Lansing Housing Commission, serving for more than 25 years. When she saw a lack of Spanish-language services for the Hispanic community in Lansing, she helped found the Cristo Rey Church and Cristo Rey Community Center, serving as board chair of the latter for more than 25 years.
Her induction into Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame noted that Lopez’s “courage, tenacity and dedication overcame racism and sexism, making her a voice for the Activist Gave a Voice to the under-resourced communities and a catalyst for the betterment of her community.”
1960 - Present
Born and raised in Mexico, Fernando Valenzuela was already working as a professional pitcher at age 16. In 1979, the Los Angeles Dodgers bought his contract. The following year, he made his major league debut, pitching 18 scoreless innings during the last weeks of the season.
During his rookie year, Valenzuela led the Dodgers to a World Series title. He was named Rookie of the Year and was the first rookie to receive the league’s Cy Young Award for best pitcher. He achieved superstardom, with fans catching “Fernandomania.” He played for 17 years, cementing his status as a cultural icon in the Latino community.
1995 - Present
Katya Echazarreta became the first Mexican-born woman in space in 2022, as a passenger on a Blue Origin rocket, part of Jeff Bezos’ space travel program.
She participated in the space flight as an ambassador for Space for Humanity, a nonprofit that seeks to increase the diversity of people participating in space travel. As an electrical engineer, she has used her experience in space and her personal story to advocate for STEM education and careers for women of color.
1941 - Present
Dr. Refugio “Will” Rochin was named one of America’s Top 100 Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business magazine and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston’s Northeastern University in 2000. He was a professor of Sociology and Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University and the first permanent director of MSU’s Julian Samora Research Institute.
Dr. Rochin was a principal investigator and administrator at the Midwest Consortium for Latino Studies. He is a professor emeritus of Chicana/o Studies and Agricultural Economics at the University of California, Davis, and retired director of Research and Evaluation at UC Santa Cruz’s Educational Partnership Center.
1931 - Present
Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican-born American actress, dancer, singer and social activist noted for a career spanning more than 70 years.
She appeared in the classic musicals Singin' in the Rain (1952) and The King and I (1956). Her breakout role as Anita in West Side Story (1961) earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first Latin American woman to win an Academy Award. She has accomplished the rare feat of winning four major North American entertainment awards (or EGOT): an Emmy (1977, 1978), Grammy (1972), Oscar (1962) and Tony (1975).
1928 - 1970
Born in Mexico and raised in Texas, Ruben Salazar was one of the first Mexican-American journalists in mainstream media. As a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, he highlighted the Mexican-American community and Chicano movement, focusing on the injustices they experienced.
He later became the news director for KMEX, L.A.’s pioneering Spanish-language television station. In August 1970, while covering the National Chicano Moratorium March protesting the Vietnam War, he was killed by a tear gas projectile shot by a sheriff’s deputy. Salazar’s legacy lives on through his message of equality and justice for Latinos in America.
1976 - Present
Dr. Serena Auñón-Chancellor has been a NASA astronaut since 2009 and was the first Hispanic physician in space. She served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for a 2018 expedition, spending 197 days in space. During that expedition, she conducted research related to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Her additional NASA-related work includes deep sea exploration, on-site Antarctic research, and providing medical and other support to her fellow astronauts from NASA headquarters. Her career outside of NASA includes serving as an internist in private practice and teaching medical school students at Louisiana State University.
1954 - Present
Born to Puerto Rican parents, Sonia Sotomayor grew up in a public housing project in New York City. Her mother instilled a belief in the power of education, and Sotomayor earned degrees from Princeton University and Yale Law School, later working as a big-city prosecutor and a corporate litigator.
She was appointed as a federal judge in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, by President George H.W. Bush, then to the Second Circuit by President Bill Clinton. In 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, where she made history as the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve as a justice.