The Official Site of The Commonwealth of Virginia

Hispanic Heritage Month in Virginia

Hispanic Heritage Month Logo Header Image

Virginia.gov honors the contributions of Hispanic Americans in Virginia during national Hispanic Heritage month, September 15 - October 15.

Noteworthy Hispanic Men and Women

Through Hispanic Heritage Month, Virginia.gov's spotlight celebrates the history, culture, and contributions of individuals who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean. Meet some of these noteworthy Virginians!

Cecilia Hernandez-Pena Photo

Cecilia Hernandez-Pena

Community Leadership and Philanthropy

After coming to the United States to join her husband, she is now raising their children as a single parent on the Eastern Shore. In addition to working as a cleaner in a poultry processing plant, she serves on the board of Dos Santos, which provides a range of community services, primarily to Latino families.

Learn More about Cecilia Hernandez-Pena

Jose Francisco Garcia Photo

Jose Francisco Garcia

Science and Medicine

Raised on his family's farm in El Salvador, he came to the United States to study agriculture. He is currently a graduate student in plant pathology at Virginia Tech's Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Painter, Virginia.

Learn More about Jose Francisco Garcia

Julia Garcia Photo

Julia Garcia

Arts and Literature, Education

Born near Cochabamba in the central highlands of Bolivia, she is a leader in the preservation of her native Quechua language and Bolivian folk traditions, especially dance. She teaches Spanish at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington.

Learn More about Julia Garcia

Hispanic Innovation

In conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office is recognizing some Hispanic Americans whose inventions contributed to the nation's social and economic well-being. Below are just a few snapshots of these historic and innovative acheivements.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres

SIM Cards

Born in Nicaragua, Fernando Torres has four patents, including U.S. Patent 8,478,341 for "Automatic Selection of SIM Cards in Mobile Devices."

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Jozsef Biró Laszlo

Jozsef Biró Laszlo

Fountain Pen

Born in Hungary and then later he migrated to Argentina, Jozsef Biró Laszlo was granted U.S. Patent 2,258,841 October 14, 1941 for a "Fountain Pen" - the father of the modern ballpoint pen.

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Elena T. Medo

Elena T. Medo

Breast Pump System

Born in CaliforniaElena T. Medo has been granted nine U.S. Patents, including U.S. Patent 5,971,952 for a "Breast Pump System Using Wall Vacuum Source."

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Hugo Terán Salguero

Hugo Terán Salguero

Rotary Engine

Born in Bolivia, Hugo Terán Salguero was granted U.S. Patent 4,055,156 for a "Rotary Engine."

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Lydia Villa-Komaroff

Lydia Villa-Komaroff

DNA & Protein Synthesis

Born in MéxicoLydia Villa-Komaroff has been granted U.S. Patent 4,565,785 for "Recombinant DNA Molecule" and U.S. Patent 4,411,994 for "Protein Synthesis." She was the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate in the sciences in the U.S.

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The History and Facts

The History of Hispanic Heritage Month

The observance of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting Sept. 15. The monthlong observance was enacted into law Aug. 17, 1988.

Hispanic Contributions to Virginia History

People of Hispanic heritage have long played important roles in Virginia history. In 1570, Spanish explorers established a Jesuit settlement at the confluence of the James and York rivers. Spain’s backing of the young colonies during the American Revolution provided much-needed financial, logistical and manpower resources.

What's the word?

The terms "Hispanic" and "Latino" are often used interchangeably. "Hispanic" refers to people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain. "Latino" describes people originating from Latin America, regardless of their native language.

Latinxs in Virginia - Current Population estimates

Learning Resources

Check out the resources below to learn more about Hispanic Americans in Virginia.