RIVER FOREST, Ill. (WLS) -- Dominican University students and staff celebrated the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, Wednesday.
"Dia de los Muertos is a celebration. It's really a time for us to think about the ways in which our loved ones have really shaped our lives," said Andrew Mercado, associate director of University Ministry.
For the Mexican cultural holiday, families put photographs of their ancestors and loved ones who have passed away on home altars, called ofrendas, along with decorations and items once beloved by their deceased relatives, like favorite foods or items of clothing.
"My entire family has celebrated this holiday as far back as I can remember. So it is very much embedded in my culture and yearly tradition," said student Grettel Gomez.
Dominican University set up five ofrendas around campus this year, highlighting the realities of war, migration, mental health and intersectinality.
"We are gathering as a community again to remember our loved ones but also contemplate what's going on in our society," said Mercado.
Hispanics make up nearly half of the student population at Dominican, and students said it's important to have their culture and traditions reflected on campus.
"It's very comforting and it feels like a home away from home," Goray said.
"As a Catholic Hispanic institution, it's a way for us to demonstrate that we are really true to our roots and our mission," said Mercado.