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Celebrating Latinx Culture at Cal State Fullerton With Grammy Award-Winning Poncho Sanchez

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Hundreds of supporters of Celebración de Cal State Fullerton gathered at the university Sunday, Oct. 2, to proclaim “¡Somos Titans!” (“We are Titans!”) Starting off with a Fiesta sponsor reception featuring mariachis, a student guitar trio, art and Latin cuisine, the crowd then moved on to the main event: a concert by Grammy Award-winning musician Poncho Sanchez and his Latin jazz band held in the university’s Meng Concert Hall. The event raised more than $300,000 to support programs and opportunities to benefit CSUF Latinx students. 

Sanchez, a well-known conguero (a musician who plays the conga drums), has delighted audiences for more than three decades with his mix of Latin jazz, soul music, melodies and rhythms from a variety of Latin and South American sources. He has drummed alongside such jazz greats as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and Cal Tjader. 

And he does have links to Cal State Fullerton. His musical director and trombone player, Francisco Torres, is a faculty member at the university, and percussionist Giancarlo Anderson is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree with a focus on jazz studies and commercial music.

¡Somos Titans!

For the past four years, CSUF has been recognized with Insight Into Diversity’s Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for championing diversity and inclusion. The university is also one of only four institutions in the nation to be named both a Fulbright Hispanic-Serving Institution and a recipient of the Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education, the nation’s premier authority in advancing Latinx student success.

CSUF President Fram Virjee welcomed the sold-out crowd and thanked the honorary co-chairs for the event: Vikki Vargas ’81 (B.A. communications), who serves as Southern California news bureau chief for NBC, and Gaddi Vasquez, who received an honorary degree from the university in 2021 and has served in such roles as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Rome as well as director of the Peace Corps.

To support CSUF Latinx students, visit

Valerie Orleans