ASU student Salas takes first place in the Hispanic College Quiz Show


Joshua Salas on wrestling mat

Raising awareness of Hispanic history and culture, Adams State University student Joshua Salas received first place in the Hispanic College Quiz 2016 in Nashville this past August. "It was a really fun experience," Salas said. "I am surprised I did so well."

Dr. Nick Saenz, Adams State assistant professor of history, nominated Salas, who appreciated his support and help studying the material. "Knowing Josh as a student, athlete, and advisee, I was confident that he had the skill and drive to excel in this type of challenge," Saenz said.

Two weeks after Salas found out he would be attending the conference, he received his study material, which included biographies on 100 Hispanics who shaped US history.

To prepare for the competition, Salas made 7 to 10 index cards for each individual and "flipping" them, studied for a month. The study book started with Juan Ponce de León and ended with Oscar De La Hoya. "I have a greater sense of pride for my heritage after this contest," Salas said.

"Hispanic College Quiz contestants have about a month to prepare, which requires a deep commitment to further study at time when most students are enjoying the fruits of a well-deserved summer break," Saenz added. "To use a popular Spanish expression, I knew that Josh had the "ganas" to make the most of this opportunity."

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and Central City Productions partnered on this project, which featured 9 Hispanic college students answering a series of multiple-choice questions on Latino history. Adams State is a designated Hispanic Serving institution and a member of HACU.

"The Hispanic College Quiz serves as a unique opportunity to showcase the rich history and culture of Latinos," Saenz said. "For participants, competing in this arena actually serves as a means to celebrate their culture and identity. For the rest of us, the final product is not only informative, but also, and perhaps more importantly, a form of cultural validation."

When Saenz realized he would need to find another sponsor to accompany Salas to Nashville, Oneyda Maestas, director of the Cultural Awareness and Student Achievement Center (CASA) volunteered.

Once in Nashville, Salas continued his studies, with help from Maestas. The day of the contest, he arrived at the studio at 12:15 p.m., and because he advanced to the championship round, didn't leave the building until 11 p.m. "It was a really cool studio," Salas said. "They took care of you and were very professional."

He didn't have any opportunities to explore Nashville, "the furthest east I have ever traveled." After the contest, he took the time to walk around downtown and admire the neon lights. His parents drove from Arizona to support him. "They had more time to check-out Nashville." He appreciates their continued support and belief in him.

According to the Central City Productions website, the purpose of the "Know Your Heritage Hispanic College Quiz Show" series is to encourage the appreciation of Latino heritage by all people in an entertaining quiz show format. The quiz show series objective is to generate a high level of excitement and enthusiasm by featuring Hispanic College students from around the country and showcase their knowledge and skill of Hispanic history.

The Know Your Heritage Hispanic College Quiz is endorsed by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The mission of HACU is to serve as the International Voice and Advocate for the preservation and enhancement of Latinos in Higher Education. Scholarship money is awarded to participating schools and winning student.

Salas received a $3000 scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to the HACU Conference in San Antonio in October. "I am looking forward to seeing the other two final Hispanic College Quiz contestants at the HACU Conference."

The quiz show will air throughout the nation, in September and October, coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month. When the show aired in Arizona, Salas' parents hosted a party. "It was cool seeing myself on television," Salas said.

He and Saenz have known since August that Salas won the contest, but needed to stay quiet until after the show aired. "It has been tough keeping such a big secret," Saenz said. "It is exciting to finally see this news go public."

A member of both the wrestling and rugby teams, Salas also participates in the Newman Club. After graduating he plans on teaching history and coaching wrestling back in Arizona.