En Kent somos todos familia, In Kent we are all family
DEI has spearheaded a series of initiatives designed to offer culturally and linguistically appropriate support to students, faculty and staff who identify as Latinx/Hispanic as well as those with a special interest in the richness of the culture. These initiatives center around the idea of collaboration and collective impact with the goal of strengthening the voice and sense of belonging of all students, faculty and staff, including those with an affinity to the Latinx/Hispanic culture.
There are two distinct initiatives that are worth highlighting: The revitalization of the Hispanic Leadership Council and the new mentorship program entitled Lazos.
Lazos, Spanish for "ties" (as in "family ties"), is a culturally and linguistically relevant mentoring initiative for Latinx/Hispanic students led by Costa Rican native Dr. Oscar Rocha, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences. From a unique perspective that takes into account their specific culture and language, Latinx/Hispanic faculty and staff offer one-on-one, culturally concordant support to promote student academic success and a sense of belonging.
Students can receive support from their mentors (padrinos, madrinas) in a variety of ways. For example, they can receive advice on course selection and recommendations on the sequence in which the courses should be taken; field-specific advice on expectations for successful students; information about enrichment opportunities like internships, participation in research activities, study abroad programs, and other extracurricular activities; and advice on résumé building, to name a few. Mentors can also help students adjust to campus life, and offer students living away from their families a warm and welcoming place to learn and grow.
The program has an online presence in the website of the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and this presence is in bilingual form. Students and their mentors are able to learn about the program and fill out a form in Spanish or English—a feature that students have reported has made them feel welcome in a unique way.
The work of Lazos has been further strengthened by the revitalization of the Hispanic Leadership Council, a diverse group of student leaders, faculty and staff with a special affinity to the Latinx/Hispanic identity. This forum is where voices are heard, ideas are birthed, and strategies are planned to strengthen the presence and impact of individuals who contribute to the rich and diverse culture of the Kent State community, and whose perspective has been known to add incredible value.
To get involved in any of these efforts, email Natasha Curtis at ncurtis1 [at] kent.edu