Madison educator, writer, poet, and arts advocate Oscar Mireles will deliver a keynote address for Hispanic Heritage Month on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 4:30 p.m. at the Noel Fine Arts Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
The title of his presentation will be “Becoming a Leader and Building on Your Strength.”
“I’m going to be just working with university students, especially the different affinity groups, and just talking about student organizing in the digital age,” Mireles tells Madison365. “How do you get students active and involved? We have Hispanic Heritage Month going on and we have elections coming up, including a presidential election. We just want to get students to be more socially active. The young people have been through a lot with the pandemic and everything and many have missed a lot of school and I want to help them readjust to staying involved and staying active.”
Mireles is the executive director/principal of Omega School, an alternative education center helping young adults pursue their high school equivalency diploma (HSED) and general education development (GED) on Madison’s South Side. He is also the founder of Latinos Organizing for Understanding and Development (LOUD), a statewide Latino arts organization, and co-founder of Art Party, an arts networking group.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is something that has always been very important to me,” Mireles says. “It’s something that every year approaches us really fast … I think because half of it is in September and half of it is in October. As I looked around the state, I noticed that there were a lot of things going on for Hispanic Heritage Month
“I think that our universities are taking more notice of Hispanic Heritage Month and event the different news channels. I just appreciate that there is a greater awareness of the month and the events. I’m glad to be a part of it,” he adds.
Mireles was Madison’s first Latino poet laureate (2016-2020) and has published three anthologies about Latinos in Wisconsin, titled I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos In Wisconsin. He’s also published a children’s book and a poetry chapbook.
In Madison, Mireles is a well-known Latino leader, as well as in Milwaukee where he was associate executive director of Centro de la Comunidad Unida/United Community Center (UCC). He also has many friends in his hometown of Racine and in Oshkosh, where he was recently honored as a distinguished alumni of UW-Oskosh. But is he surprised that people know him in Stevens Point?
“It’s been a couple of decades since I’ve done the books [I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin]. But being around almost 68 years, I’ve found that you’re more well-known than you think,” Mireles smiles. “It’s a little amazing that more people are aware of me than I realize.”
Mireles’ keynote will conclude the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month at UW-Stevens Point. The university is in the middle of several events that they have lined up for Hispanic Heritage Month which kicked off with the Drag Queen Loteria bingo game on Friday, Sept. 15, and salsa and bachata dance lessons offered on Saturday, Sept. 16.
Wednesday night’s keynote address is co-sponsored by campus partners, including the Office of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer, MBA Sentry School of Business and Economics, UWSP Foundation and Division of University Advancement and the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
Mireles will be available for a meet and greet with refreshments in the Noel Fine Arts Courtyard immediately following the keynote presentation.
“This event to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month will be both in person and virtual,” Mireles says. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
For more information about this event at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, please contact [email protected].