Maya Rengifo – Mustangs Ahead

School counselor Theresa Rey visits the LRHS barn

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – Hispanic Heritage Month concludes on Friday, Oct. 15.

Even though this time period may come to an end, LRHS will continue to uplift and honor its Hispanic staff who work towards all Mustangs’ success. For example, school counselor Teresa Rey works closely with Mustangs to ensure them the best time on campus.

Mustangs Ahead (MA): What is your background culturally and regarding Lakewood?

Teresa Rey (TR): This is my first year at LRHS and I am a first-generation Cuban American. Prior to Cuba, my ancestors migrated from Spain and the Canary Islands.

MA: In what ways do you honor your heritage?

TR: I try to honor my heritage in as many ways as possible. I support Hispanic businesses in the Tampa Bay area. It is hard to find Cuban food in the immediate area, so I usually cross the bridge and go to either Saint Petersburg or Tampa. I also listen to La Maxima 92.5 (a Latin Pop radio station) and support Hispanic musicians by attending concerts such as Romeo Santos, Marc Anthony, and Pitbull.

I celebrate Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), El Dia de Los Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Day), and el Vente de Mayo (Cuba’s Independence Day). I also connect with other Cubans worldwide via social media groups. I went to Cuba a few years ago and interacted with the locals. I have pictures of my trip in my office, and it reminds me daily of the sacrifices that my family made. I have a large Cuban flag hanging in my residence and I plan to take another trip to Cuba in the future to see more of my heritage.

I miss Miami and I try to go down often to see my family. When I am down there, I usually spend time around Calle Ocho and Little Havana. There is nothing like a cortadito and un pastelito de carne from La Ventanita de Versailles. I speak to my family in Spain often and plan to travel out there.

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MA: What does it mean to you to be of Hispanic heritage?

TR: My heritage is dear to me. My family fought in the (1961) Bay of Pigs (Invasion of Cuba) and came on rafts to the United States when the Castro regime took over. Some of my family members made the ultimate sacrifice for me to have the freedoms that I have today. I hold these sacrifices close to my heart.

MA: What do you believe we can do more to appropriately honor Hispanic contribution within America?

TR: I would like to see more done as far as festivals and celebrations. I know that there are some in Tampa and it is growing, but hopefully, it grows more with time. I think an effective way of honoring Hispanics is to recognize them. For example, Calle Ocho in Miami is also now known as Celia Cruz Way.