To the UConn Community:
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to take this opportunity to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of May.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This national heritage celebration began in 1978 when Congress established a week to honor the contributions Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have made to the United States. Congress selected the first ten days of May for this celebration to commemorate two important milestones in US history: the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and the completion of the trans-continental railroad (May 10, 1869), which was built primarily by Chinese workers. This celebration was expanded to a full month in 1992. UConn celebrates Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islanders contributions in April, so students, faculty, and staff are able to participate in events and celebrations.
Eid al-Fitr (May 2-3): Eid al-Fitr is one of two major feasts Muslims celebrate each year. Translated as “the festival of breaking the fast,” it marks the end of Ramadan. After a month of fasting during Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is seen as a spiritual celebration of Allah’s provision of strength and endurance. Traditions vary from place to place, but might include special morning prayers, exchanging gifts, and giving to those in need. This year, UConn will be holding an Eid celebration; because of COVID restrictions, participation is limited to 200. It is also important to note that Eid falls during the start of Spring 2022 finals, which presents a unique hardship to Muslim students, who are facing the toughest part of the academic year while also observing their faith’s holiest month.
Haitian Heritage Month: This national heritage month celebrates Haitian culture and traditions. It is an expansion of Haitian Flag Day (May 18th), which commemorates Haiti’s revolution from France and the formation of the world’s first Black republic. Haitian Flag Day is honored both in Haiti and by Haitians living in diaspora, especially in the US, which is home to the largest Haitian diaspora in the world. Haitian Heritage Month was first celebrated in Boston in 1998 and became a national celebration after President George W. Bush honored it in 2005. Events include parades, flag raisings, and exhibits honoring Haitian culture, art, food, and traditions. UConn has two organizations for Haitian and Haitian American students: Aiding in Haitian Education, Advancement, and Development (AHEAD) and the Haitian Student Association.
Jewish American Heritage Month: This national heritage month recognizes more than 350+ years of Jewish contributions to the United States, paying tribute to generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society. Though first recognized in April 2006, this month is commemorated in May to honor the first Jewish migrants to North America, who arrived in New York (then called New Amsterdam) after fleeing persecution in May of 1654. There are several organizations for Jewish students, staff, and faculty at UConn, including Hillel, Chabad, and the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Life (Storrs and Stamford), which sponsors the American Jewish Year Book to provide the most up-to-date information about Jewish life in North America. The Center also has a number of educational resources and lectures available for free. In 2022, this month coincides with the completion of the 1-credit course on Antisemitism.
Mental Health Awareness Month: Mental Health Awareness month raises awareness about our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and educates the public about mental health, living with mental health conditions, and strategies for improving mental health and wellness. Of particular concern is suicide prevention. Over the last few years, many people have reported feeling that current events are taking a toll on their mental health, whether from the stress, isolation, and uncertainty in a pandemic or from social justice issues and political unrest. These have been particularly hard on historically minoritized peoples who have increasingly been targeted for harassment and violence.
Whatever you may be going through, UConn has tools, resources, and programs to support you: Student Health and Wellness (SHaW)’s resources for mental health at Storrs and at the regional campuses; student wellness resources at UConn Health; Human Resources mental health resources; resources for suicide prevention; the Student Care Team, which responds to concerns about individual student health and wellness; Holistic Huskies, a podcast on student mental health experiences; and UConn’s Wellness Coalition, a space for students to come together and develop innovative solutions to health and wellness issues on campus. The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs also has on-campus and off-campus resources specifically for military veterans.
Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day (May 30): Memorial Day began as a day set aside for families and friends to visit and decorate the graves of loved ones lost during the American Civil War. Congress made Memorial Day an official holiday in 1971, setting aside the last Monday in May to honor all who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States. Congress began recognizing Military Appreciation month in 1999 to honor all service members past and present, as well as those associated with them including children of fallen soldiers, spouses, caregivers, and others who served and sacrificed along with military members. Military Appreciation Month includes Military Spouse Appreciation Day (5/6), Children of Fallen Patriots Day (5/13), Armed Forces Day (5/15), and Memorial Day (5/30), and coincides with Military Caregiver Month.
UConn honors members of the military and their families. Because Memorial Day falls after the spring semester has ended, The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) will only hold one event this month, a May 31st service at Old Storrs Cemetery that involves placing flags on the graves of all veterans and highlighting the lives and service of a select few. All are invited to participate.
UConn also recognizes that veterans and service members face unique challenges in higher education. VAMP provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families who are attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, and providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students for Disabilities, which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status.
Mother’s Day (May 8): In the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. While other countries have similar days of commemoration, dates and traditions vary. The American version of Mother’s Day was created in 1905 to honor the sacrifices mothers make for their children. Though originally a day of celebration for individuals and families, it was heavily commercialized after President Woodrow Wilson declared it a federal holiday in 1914. The Women’s Center offers an ongoing group for mothers at UConn, Moms4Moms. Open to mothers employed or enrolled at UConn, this group works to enlighten, empower, engage, and educate moms. It also provides opportunities to network and build community, as well as an inclusive space to talk about the joys and hardships of motherhood. For all the mothers and the mothers-at-heart, thank you for your care and kindness. For those who have lost a child, lost a mother, or are yearning to be a mother, we see you and honor you.
National Nurses Week (May 6 to May 12) and International Nurses Day (May 12): International Nurses Day is celebrated globally every May 12th, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. In the United States, the week leading up to International Nurses Day is National Nurses Week, which celebrates the profession and provides opportunities to promote understanding and appreciation of the invaluable contributions nurses make to our society. This year’s theme is Nurses Make a Difference, which honors the roles nurses play in ensuring individuals, families, and populations receive quality, affordable healthcare. After COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses caused by the underinvestment in health systems around the world, these events raise awareness about building a resilient and highly qualified nursing workforce to meet the healthcare needs of our communities. We are especially appreciative of the nurses who work to meet the healthcare needs of the UConn campus communities, including the nurses at Student Health and Wellness, whose invaluable contributions make it possible to provide outstanding student-centered healthcare, and who work on the frontlines of advocating for student health and wellness and supporting students’ efforts to develop health and wellness knowledge. Thank you for all you do!
There will be several National Nurses Week celebrations across the UConn system. The UConn School of Nursing will be honoring National Nurses Week by promoting current students and alumni on social media, reposting nursing photos that include #UConnNursing. Anyone who uses that hashtag between May 6 and 12 will be entered in a raffle to win School of Nursing merchandise. School of Nursing faculty and staff will also attend recruitment events throughout the state to promote the schools’ role in building a resilient and highly qualified nursing workforce. UConn Health will also recognize its nurses and the important work they have been doing for the people of Connecticut, including on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. UConn Health will also highlight the 2022 Nightingale Award winners for their excellence in nursing. Make sure to check out their YouTube channel and UConn Today for more!
Older Americans Month: This heritage month was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 as a way to acknowledge the contributions of older persons in the country and raise awareness about this community’s growing needs and concerns. Ageism is a systematic issue in the United States, despite a rapidly aging population. While this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, which prohibits discrimination against workers over the age of 40 during all stages of employment. there is still a long way to go in ensuring the wellbeing and care of older populations. This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Age My Way,” which focuses on helping older adults stay in their homes and live independently in their communities for as long as possible. This month provides an opportunity to explore the many ways older adults can remain in and be involved with their communities.
The University of Connecticut supports senior citizens through free educational initiatives, including Senior Citizen Audits for learners over 62, UConn Extension’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) for retirees and other adults from all walks of life, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLII) where learners over 50 can expand their minds and connect with other learners.
We welcome the celebration of each of these observances on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information about guidance on academic accommodations for religious observances on a new webpage hosted by the Provost’s Office.
To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the remainder of the semester, please visit our events page at www.diversity.uconn.edu/events.
Carl and Frank
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
This post has been edited for corrections as of May 4, 2022.