In a blog I wrote for NASPA. or Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, I reflected on my own professional experience writing that “I found both education and my work in higher education by chance! The one thing I knew for sure when my mother decided to bring me to the United States from the Dominican Republic at the age of twelve was that this would be my only chance to attend school. Like many of my colleagues and the students with whom we work every day, I was a first generation college student and, in fact, the first person to earn a high school diploma in my family.
Without a roadmap, my educational and professional journeys have been deeply shaped by a willingness to experiment, leaps of faith, and a deep reliance on mentors and role models to help me find my way. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work in six different institutions and have strategically pursued professional development to keep learning and to fill the gaps I have encountered as a first generation Latinx professional.”
Professionally, I have been extremely fortunate to work at Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) all over the United States, including, New York City, Burlington, VT, San Diego and Oakland, California, various communities in South Florida, Evansville, Indiana and Corvallis, Oregon. In all these places, I have felt challenged and supported, included and excluded, and also misunderstood. However, in all these places, I have also felt appreciated, encouraged, strengthened by amazing colleagues and friends and nurtured to success by loyal, compassionate and dedicated colleagues, as well as courageous students.
My commitment to live a life with purpose, to service, and to working as an advocate to create access and to confront issues of inclusion, equity and social justice, is deeply rooted in the privileges I have gained while navigating the experiences listed above and many more. In the crossings of my personal and professional journeys, I have been fortunate to have many experiences that have shaped my daily practice, provide diverse perspectives and form my inclusive and collaborative work philosophy. Some of those experiences include growing up as the oldest and female child in a very traditional Latinx family; having to learn English after arriving in the United States; transitioning from a rural, island culture to a Brooklyn community filled with poverty, violence, and drugs; experiencing poverty and homelessness as a high school student, confronting many intersections of identity around issues of class, ethnicity, race and identifying as a queer woman in a very Catholic family.
I hope that as you learn more about my work and about me, you too will be inspired to reflect on how who you are, both personally and professionally, has and continues to be influenced and shaped by your experiences. I hope that you will also be inspired to give a little bit more of yourself and to pay it forward as you go.
Hopefully, I too will have a chance to also learn more about you, your work and how you strive to live and work with purpose.