By Jenifer Martinez-Peraza | October 10, 2022
Photo Credit: iStock
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the University at Albany Academic Support Center Instagram page is highlighting advisers who identify as being part of the Latinx community.
“We figured that highlighting some of the advisers within our campus community who identify as Latinx would be a creative way to get the word out that we are a very diverse staff with many different cultures,” Advising Department Social Media Co-Chair Lucas Lavera said.
The Advising Department has also featured other advisers in the past for freshman orientation or new advisers that join the team.
The effort comes as UAlbany sees an increase in diversity among freshmen. The Class of 2026 is on track to have the highest percentage of students of 44.7% who identify as Black or Latino in the university’s history, according to university data.
“This fits in with the model that we use for social media in general, which is an appreciative advising model about seeing advisors as equal to students and not in a hierarchy,” department Co-Chair Sarah Gelfand said. “Helping students see advisors as whole people, as we hope to see students as whole people in the advising process as well.”
The idea for the change started in early August when Dr. Cassandra Andruz Ho-Ching of the Latin American, Caribbean and U.S. Latino Studies Department and Lenny Alvarez Pena of the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) shared interest in doing more to honor and encourage diversity.
Ho-Ching then reached out to the Advising Department, which suggested harnessing the power of social media.
“This was our first month doing this. It is a happy and great thing that we were able to come together,” Lavera said.
Dr. José Cruz, UAlbany Latino Politics in the U.S. professor, said marking Heritage Month is important because the month “opens a window” into the history and contributions of Hispanics to American society.
“The celebration is a bit odd given the love-hate relationship the U.S. government has with Hispanic immigrants,” Cruz said. “But it nevertheless provides an opportunity to emphasize that Hispanics are integral to American history, society, politics and the economy.”
“I love when the university takes the time to highlight the black and brown communities on campus and it makes me feel special as an adviser to have the opportunity to talk about my culture,” said departmental adviser Valerie Rivera. “It has been so cool to see everyone else's highlights and learn more about their culture and what makes them unique.”
The Advising Department plans to continue raising awareness of Hispanic heritage month by possibly incorporating infographics that highlight LGBTQ+ Latinx. They are also working on expanding into other cultures and ethnicities for other heritage months.
“Hopefully, it'll start to grow,” Ho-Ching said. “It's definitely pilot like, first-time running. So, we're definitely playing around, communicating and maybe we'll do a debrief at the end and see what to do.”