Yesterday marked the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. This celebration dates back to 1988 when President Ronald Reagan expanded National Hispanic Heritage Week to encompass a 30-day period.
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight five Hispanic Americans who were true innovators and helped positively change the face of their fields.
Science and Medicine: Severo Ochoa
Severo Ochoa was an American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for the synthesis of RNA in 1959. Born in Spain, he became a United States citizen in 1956 and has had various entities named on his behalf, two of which are a scientific research center and an asteroid. Another honor he holds is having his own United States Postal stamp which was created as part of the American Scientists collection in 2011.
Aerospace: Franklin Chang-Diaz
Franklin Chang-Diaz was the first Costa Rican astronaut, serving his maiden space-bound mission aboard the Columbia in January 1986. In the last ten years, he is one of only two astronauts to have served on seven space missions. He is currently working on creating a plasma rocket at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Politics: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been breaking records for decades. Ros-Lehtinen was not only the first Cuban American and Latina to ever be elected into Congress, she was also the first Republican female from Florida to win a seat in the House. She is the most senior Republican woman in the House and has served as a role model for Latina women everywhere. She was also the first Republican to give a response in Spanish after the State of the Union in 2011.
Entertainment: Desi Arnaz
Arnaz, along with his cameraman, were some of the first people to use a multiple-camera production style that eventually became customary for many situation comedies. He was an entrepreneur with an interesting leadership style. He founded Desilu Productions which had many formative years.
Athletics: Robert Clemente (Baseball)
Robert Clemente was a Puerto Rican baseball player who played his entire eighteen season career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also a humanitarian who would often go to Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries to do charity work during off season. He was the first Latin American to be added to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
These individuals, as well as countless others, have helped shape their industries and positively influenced our country’s history.
Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!
For a list of events celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, please visit: http://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/