Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote Speaker Jesus Nebot

Keynote speaker of Hispanic Heritage Month, Jesus Nebot spoke in Wilson Auditorium this past Monday about illegal immigration from a Humanitarian perspective.

The Hispanic Heritage Month Committee, Office of Student Activities and Student Center Operations sponsored the event. Nebot is a humanitarian, a speaker and directed and starred in the movie “No Turning Back” about a man named Pablo who immigrates to America looking to provide a better life for his family.

“We thought with this being election year it would be a very hot topic at the University” Assistant Director of Student Service for Multicultural and Diversity Issues, Heather Kelly, said. Nebot was the one to propose the idea of discussing immigration after Kelly asked him to speak at the University.

“I hope that faculty will encourage students to attend to see that there’s more to the culture than just food and dancing” Lambda Theta Alpha Sorority Advisor, Nicole Martinez, said. Some students were asked by their Professors to attend Nebots’ speech for extra credit while others came for a different perspective on immigration.

“I came here to learn more about immigration in order to form a more valid opinion, rather than just base it on what’s in the media” Mike Pape, a junior transfer to the University, said.

Nebot began his speech with a story from his childhood growing up in Spain and then walked the audience through his journey to America. He asked members of the audience about their own personal connection to immigration and what their comments or concerns were on the topic. As people voiced their questions and opinions, they were written down on a board and discussed by Nebot.

The topics included the Arizona Immigration Law, Health Care and the economy, the Dream Act that promotes children who immigrated to America with their families and grew up Americanized to gain citizenship, feelings of social unrest from immigrants and the difference between the definition of illegal and undocumented. He asked that people try to view immigrants as “economic refugees” since most immigrants come to America looking for an opportunity to work. Nebot also stated that this is a global issue, not just a domestic one and other reasons for people moving north were due to religious and political freedom and global warming.

Dr. Stanton Green, Dean of the McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences and a Professor of Anthropology said, “It’s so important for students to hear the personal side. We’re not dealing with statistics we’re dealing with people.”

Nebot hopes students will look at the issue of immigration from a place of love and not fear.

Sarah McGrail, a freshman who attended because of her sociology class said, “It was an interesting side than the politicians” referring to his humanitarian perspective.

“I wanted to hear the Humanitarian solutions approach,” said Juan Fuenzalida, a 1979 Monmouth Alumni who immigrated to America from Chile in 1974. Fuenzalida went on to say “we don’t have much voice” and that he found comfort in Nebot giving a voice to immigrants that wasn’t political.

Nebot brought up different humanitarian solutions for discussion towards the end of his speech. The possible humanitarian solutions include: raising the living standards in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, reopening the debate on the future of Latin America, reducing the economic insecurities that are fueling the anti-immigration backlash, canceling impoverished countries’ crippling debts and devising a set of policies that bring immigrants out of the shadows.

“As our student population grows more diverse it’s important that we contribute to bring events that reflect diversity and serve to educate” said Director of Equity and Diversity and a member of the Hispanic Heritage Month committee, Julian R. Williams.

Hispanic Heritage Month began on September 15 and ends October 15. For more information on events visit the University Newswire and to learn more about Jesus Nebot visit