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MSU Billings Hispanic group raising its profile as population grows

Fundraisers include bake sale, Day of the Dead event
Posted at 2:56 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 16:56:08-04

BILLINGS — It’s a delicious way to celebrate a big milestone for MSU Billings.

The student body has seen a 9% growth in its Hispanic population since last semester, and the school's Hispanic outreach group is raising money with treats to share their culture with the city.

For Jasmine Marquez, her Mexican heritage is a huge part of her identity.

“I think it’s a big part of me. It definitely represents me,” said Marquez on Monday.

That’s why the Colorado native jumped at the chance to be a part of the growing group.


“We try to do as many activities as possible so that our students of Hispanic heritage and Hispanic students see that we care about them,” said MSU Billings professor and Hispanic outreach coordinator, Ana Diaz.

One of those activities was a Monday bake sale, where all goods were of Hispanic origin. Marquez made polvorones, or Mexican wedding cookies.

“It’s pretty much a butter pastry and you put a little bit of flour. I’m doing gluten-free just so there’s a variety,” Marquez said.

The recipe was passed down to Marquez from her great-grandparents.

It’s a chance for other students to learn a little bit more about Hispanic culture through the language of food.


“It’s an easy and accessible way to kind of, you know, what does this mean to you? What are these flavors and how do they come to be in your culture?” said MSUB student Ivan Wells.

That cultural knowledge is more accessible than ever as the Treasure State grows more diverse.

“We have doubled our population of Hispanic individuals in Montana, and that corresponds really nicely with what we’re seeing at MSUB as well,” Diaz said.

All the money raised through the bake sale is going toward events that the Hispanic outreach group is throwing, such as the inaugural Day of the Dead celebration.


“It’s a lovely way to celebrate our beloved departed, so we’ll be doing that on Nov. 5,” said Mary Hernandez, the director of the Institute for Peace Studies.

The institute and the Hispanic outreach group are putting on the event, which will be held downtown. For Marquez, it’s another way to share and celebrate a piece of her home.

“I think this would be a great way to promote it, and kind of allow people to know there’s more out there too,” Marquez said.

Click here if you're interested in attending the Day of the Dead event.