America's Next Top Model: Jaslene Gonzalez Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15, covering the dates of independence of several Central and South American countries. To commemorate the event, the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority and Office of Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs of Northwestern University invited the "Cha-Cha Diva" and America's Next Top Model cycle 8 winner Jaslene Gonzalez to speak.

Sorority Vice President Jessica Lozada said they invited Jaslene “to speak about her journey, but also more about her identity as a Latina on television."

Jaslene was frank with the audience, saying at times she might have felt some pressure to play up that Cha-Cha Diva persona on America's Next Top Model, but in the end, she knows it was also that same spark that helped carry her through the competition.

She has new pressure now, with the responsibility that goes along with a winner. "It's a fabulous life, but it's also a very hard job," she said. "So many people are looking up to you, and as a Latina, I feel like I have a whole community looking up to me."

She is taking the responsibility seriously, and using her time in the spotlight to help causes she cares about. She's spoken out on several occasions about her experience in an abusive relationship, and this event actually collected donations for Between Friends, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.

Jaslene continues to be an approachable America's Next Top Model. She sat on the edge of the stage to chat with the audience in a less formal manner than from behind the podium. She also had a student come up on stage and practice her signature walk with her.

Her message to the audience was one of self-respect and dignity, saying, "Represent yourself as a woman of integrity and excellence and no one can judge you for that.”

- Leslie Seaton, BuddyTV Staff Columnist

Source: The Daily Northwestern, Fact Monster
(Image: The Daily Northwestern)