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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Icons Who Shaped Society

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and honor people of Hispanic heritage who have influenced America and the world in a monumental way.

Here are a few icons who have impacted society.


Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, PhD, RN

Ildaura was called “the Hispanic whirlwind” for her work as an advocate, nurse, therapist, and educator. She established the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) in 1975 to attract people of Hispanic heritage to nursing. Idaura was the first Hispanic Dean of Nursing at New York University.







Oscar de la Renta

Oscar was one of the world’s leading fashion designers. He’s famous for his women’s evening wear and suits. Some of his attire was donned by several presidential first ladies. Oscar launched his signature line in 1965 and served as president of the Council of Fashion Designers for several years.








Serena Auñón-Chancellor, MD

Serena was the first Hispanic physician to travel to space, where she spent six months in 2018 conducting experiments related to Parkinson’s disease and cancer. Following her first mission, she treated patients and trained internal medicine residents at Louisianna State University Health Sciences Center. In 2009 she was awarded the United States Air Force Flight Surgeons Julian Ward Award.





Severo Ochoa, MD

Severo was a biochemist and enzymologist who won the 1959 Nobel Prize for the synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA). He was the first Hispanic American to earn this prestigious award. For his remarkable impact in science, the asteroid 117435 Severochoa was named in his honor, and he received US National Medal of Science in 1978.







Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia was a trans woman and veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Inn uprising. She’s widely known as the person who put the T in LGBT activism. Sylvia created the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries organization, providing a home for trans individuals in need in 1970s New York. Her legacy continues today with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.







Antonio Aguilar

Antonio is known for singing with mariachi and tambarazo, which originated in his native Zacatecas. He secured a spot in the top 20 with his song Por Ti No Voy a Llorar in July 1964. Mis Tesoros was his highest charting title for top Latin albums, peaking at number 26 in August 2015.








Antonia Coello Novello, MD

Antonia, physician and public health administrator born in Puerto Rico, was the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as Surgeon General in United States. She also served as vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.







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