September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This annual event was started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson, and was initially known as Hispanic Heritage Week. It was expanded to a month-long celebration of Hispanic and Latino history in 1988 by President Reagan. Schools, municipalities, and organizations nationwide take this opportunity to honor the culture and heritage of Hispanics in America and to celebrate the achievements of notable Hispanic Americans.
Hispanics were some of the first residents of what is now the United States of America, with Spanish-speaking settlers arriving in Florida and the Southwest in the 1500s. Currently, Hispanic Americans make up over 15 percent of the population of the United States, making them the second largest ethnic group in the nation. Hispanic Americans have played notable roles in events throughout the history of the country and many prominent figures in business, entertainment and government proudly claim Hispanic heritage.
As a result, there is a lot to celebrate in Hispanic Heritage Month. In addition to the achievements of Hispanic Americans, Hispanic Heritage Month also celebrates the independence of several Latin American countries, as the dates coincide with the anniversaries of independence of Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Belize.
There are even scholarship awards offered in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, including this week's Scholarship of the Week, the PRIMERO Hispanic Heritage Scholarship. This $10,000 award was created in recognition of the achievements of Hispanic families who put their children through college and is meant to help realize the dreams of students who are the first in their families to attend college. In addition to awards that specifically celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, a number of other Hispanic scholarships are also available to help advance the education and achievements of Hispanic Americans.