Diana Aguillon, B.S.
Diana Aguillon attended Winston-Salem State University for her undergraduate career where she learned about self-advocacy. Diana is now pursuing her master’s degree at Western Carolina University (WCU) in Higher Education Student Affairs. During her two years at WCU, she has maintained her deep connection with her Latina roots. Through her graduate assistantship and multiple internships, Diana has provided students with learning opportunities to understand the Latinx community. Her work is focused on the Latinx self-appreciation along with advocacy tools to enrich their lives during their college experience. Diana is a proud Latina and excited to be a part of this conference.
Born in San Marcos, Guatemala, he know resides in North Carolina. He is a senior at North Carolina Central University, with a double major in Material Science physica and Quantum Mechanics Engineering. Zepablo is part of Raices Latino organization, DREAM STEM Scholars program, and an active meember of Sigma Pi sigma honorary society of Physics majors. In the future, he plans on obtaining his PhD in theoretical physics, as well as a job working as a scientific researcher.
Kiara Aranda, B.A.
As the oldest daughter of Mexican migrants, Kiara’s background has been influential in her professional career. She currently serves as a College Readiness Counselor with the Emily K Center in Durham, NC supporting low-income, first generation, high achieving students prepare to apply, attend and graduate from selective institutions. After graduating in 2014 from UNC Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Political Science & Latin American studies, she began her service with the Carolina College Advising Corps supporting students in the College Application process in Charlotte, NC. Through CCAC she was able to work with a diverse student population, particularly immigrant youth, which has further shaped her understanding of the unique challenges these students face in higher education. Her experiences as a first-generation college student have driven her passion for ensuring that students from all backgrounds have access to higher education.
Nathalie Anna Bravo Batista
Nathalie Ann Bravo Batista is the daughter of Troy Bravo Figueroa, a Puerto Rican native, and Belkis Batista Perez, a Dominican Republic native. She was born in the capital of the beautiful island, Puerto Rico; where she received an excellent education at the prestigious Colegio Congregacion Mita. As she desired to further pursue her education, she decided to attend the illustrious North Carolina Central University, where she received two full rides from the DREAM STEM and the GlaxoSmith Kline STEM Program, to chase a double major in Biology and Chemistry. Her first year at Central, she founded the first ever Latino/Hispanic organization on campus which provided a space for Latinos in a Historically Black College community to become united and further educate the community about the different cultures involved with the title Latino/Hispanic. In addition, she helped found the first chapter of Latinas Promoviedo Comunidad/ Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. at an HBCU, in which she later became a member in Fall of 2017. Thanks to this she received the American Chemical Society Award of Organic Chemistry and the GlaxoSmith Kline Scholar Award. Her passion for science and helping others has led her to chase a career in the Medical Field, where she hopes to become an advocate for minorities as she works to solve health disparity in her respective community.
Lauren Bishop, M.A.
Lauren has been serving at Western Carolina University (WCU) since 2005. She became the Energy Manager for the Facilities Management Department in 2007. In 2014 she transitioned into her current role as Chief Sustainability Officer in the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management. Her focus includes taking a holistic approach to integrating sustainability and waste reduction systematically across the campus and community. It is a dynamic goal that includes utilizing campus as a living-learning laboratory for student engagement, research, and high impact learning. Lauren earned a BSBA in Real Estate & Urban Analysis and an M.A. in Industrial Technology and Building Science from Appalachian State University. Her family includes her husband Blair and two young boys, Harper and Myles. In her free time, she likes to enjoy time outside with her family, hiking, traveling, playing in her garden, and being a mom.
Sarah María Carrig, M.A.
Sarah is a half Colombian, half Caucasian instructor with over 20 years’ experience teaching Spanish language and Hispanic cultures. She is currently one of the instructors in UNC Greensboro’s Spanish for Heritage Speakers program. In addition to teaching, Sarah has organized a number of university programs around the themes of cultural identity and intercultural understanding. Before joining the Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department at UNCG, she taught for several years at North Carolina A&T State University, where she organized similar programs, the most notable being an annual African American/Latino Unity Symposium. Her other other teaching posts were out of state. Sarah earned a B.A. in Spanish from Williams College and an M.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
T-keyah Cunningham, B.S.
T-keyah Cunningham is currently a first-year HESA student at the University of South Carolina- Columbia (UofSC) and a Graduate Assistant for Multicultural Affairs and Community Resources at Columbia College of South Carolina. She graduated from Western Carolina University in December 2017 with degrees in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science. T-keyah found her love for higher education through being a Resident Assistant during her undergraduate career. She loved the reality that she could impact people every day by not only doing her job but by just being herself. T-keyah plans on graduating from UofSC with an M.Ed. and going into multicultural affairs & advocacy or housing. In her future, T-keyah will pursue a doctorate, open a mentoring program, and become either a Dean of Students, Ombudsman or a Chief Diversity Officer. Wherever she goes, her goal is to spread understanding and acceptance through education, conversation, and immersion.
Tacquice Davis, M.A.
If asked to describe herself in 3 words, Tacquice would say she’s Resilient, Called, and becomes everything to everyone even when she’s not trying to be. As the Associate Director of the Department of Intercultural Affairs at Western Carolina University, Tacquice finds herself fortunate to impact student lives daily. As a mother, she is fortunate to nurture lives daily. As a global citizen, she is fortunate to exist in a space where she is able to contribute and learn daily. Tacquice is humbled to be part of this historic event.
Mariano Garrido-Lopez, Ph.D.
With over twenty-five years as a senior executive working in multinational companies across the world, Mariano has an extensive background in a variety of industries such as Consulting, Financial Services, Healthcare and Retail. In 2016, he was given the opportunity to follow a life dream and transition to Academia. It is in his current position with Western Carolina University (WCU) where Mariano is able to pay it forward and share his business experiences with the students who are venturing into the world from which he came. Holding two Masters Degrees (MSc Industrial Engineering and an MBA), he completed his PhD in Strategic Management while working for MetLife in NYC. Mariano is currently teaching the Strategic Management, senior capstone course, and an Introduction to Management course in the College of Business at Western Carolina University.
Irene Godinez, M.I.S.
Irene Godínez is a Durham native of Mexican heritage and is the Director of Leadership Development at LEAD NC Institute where she seeks out, encourages and cultivates a new generation of community and civic leaders for North Carolina. Irene has over 12 years of experience in nonprofit management, community mobilization and engagement, lobbying, coalition-building, advocacy, media relations, and strategic communications. Irene has worked for local, state, and national organizations on advancing immigrant and reproductive rights. In 2016, Irene served as the North Carolina Latino Vote Director with the Hillary for America Campaign. Irene’s work at advocacy organizations coupled with her campaign experience crystallized her mission, to seek equitable political representation for underserved communities in North Carolina. Irene earned a Master of International Studies and B.A. in Political Science at North Carolina State University. She is a mom to a toddler, Beyoncé devotee, and an active volunteer in the Triangle community where she has served on various boards and committees, including the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, Student Action with Farmworkers, and is a co-founder of Uniting NC.
Enrique Alberto Gómez, Ph.D.
Dr. Enrique Alberto Gómez is an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Western Carolina University (WCU). He received his B.S. from the University of California Santa Cruz (1998), and a Masters (2003) and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama (2006). While working on his astrophysics doctorate, he was active in the violence against women movement as a peer educator, where he applied neurolinguistics concepts to help heterosexual cismen understand violence against women and develop moral reasoning around gender issues. Born in Mexico from a Mexican father and American mother, his first language is Spanish and he lectures in both languages in the areas of astronomy and physics. In 2014, Dr. Gómez became the first Latino president of a North Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During his tenure, he has worked to expand the framework of the NAACP locally and statewide to develop a platform that would incorporate African American, Latinx and rural White communities in a movement to expand the electorate and frame discussions of political, cultural and economic issues with moral reasoning and neurolinguistics understanding of discourse.
Nelson A. Granda, Ph.D.
Nelson is a Junior Faculty in the School of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University. He was born in Colombia and grew up in Puerto Rico where he started his career as an Engineer and Educator. He has been a member of several professional organizations throughout his career like the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (ISE). Currently, he is a member and the faculty advisor of the SACNAS student chapter in WCU, where he strives to mentor undergraduate students and help them succeed throughout college. Nelson is a supporter of Diversity and Inclusion thru the lens of Social Sustainability and is part of several initiatives in WCU. He is a strong believer that Mentoring can help increase underrepresented minorities retention and success in students’ life.
Adam is a junior at WCU and has been with the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) Committee since Spring 2017. He was recently appointed Chair of the committee in Spring 2017 as well. He joined the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management in January 2018 as an intern. He has been an active leader at WCU to promote sustainability efforts for the campus community and surrounding county. Adam enjoys birding, fly fishing, hiking, and anything that gets him outdoors.
Marcos G. Morales Gutierréz, B.S.
Marcos G. Morales Gutierréz is the Program Coordinator at the Cultural Center’s Hispanic Latino Initiatives at the University of Louisville (UofL). He is a Latinx Louisville native and graduated from UofL with a B.S. in Public Health Education, a minor in Wellness Coaching and also completed the Peace, Justice and Conflict Transformation certificate program. Marcos is currently pursuing a Master’s in Counseling Psychology at UofL and is a certified Havening Technique practitioner and Wellness Coach. Marcos’ work is centered on recognizing and uplifting the brilliance of the Latinx population at UofL through a more equitable lens by providing students with empowerment, leadership, and tools for success.
Emily Guzman, LPC-S, M.S.
Emily Guzman has lived throughout the United States including Michigan, Tennessee, Iowa, California, and Minnesota. She has also lived in England and Sinaloa, Mexico. She received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus with a double major in Child Psychology and Spanish. She received her Masters of Science in Counseling with a Specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy. Throughout her career, she has been a counselor, health educator, therapist, and social worker working with African American, LGBTQ and Latinx communities. She has provided workshops concerning immigrant rights, Working Effectively with the Latinx community, Understanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Work, When Life Happens: Mental Health 101, Mental Health First Aid, Processing Privilege, Working with Youth. Dismantling racism, classism, homophobia, and sexism has been a passion since she was a young teen. Every day she continues her journey in understanding white privilege and attempting to use privilege for positive outcomes and the greater good.
In 2009, she became an immigrant rights activist when a crisis affected her family. While fighting for her family to be together, she began blogging, started a website, and received national attention (in the LA Times, Huffington Post, Democracy Now, Story Corp, Washington Post, and other media outlets). Her blogs were edited and published as a chapter in a textbook called, Living Together, Living Apart: Mixed-Status Families and Immigration Policy.
Amanda Hanson, M.A.
Amanda Hanson (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director in the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at Western Carolina University. For the past ten years, Amanda has worked to engage college students in community service. She is a proud AmeriCorps alumna, and she has worked at colleges and universities all across the country. Most recently, prior to arriving at WCU this past fall, she worked for a student-led, student-run non-profit organization in California where she advised the community service program comprised of about 40 student leaders. Amanda has her Masters of Arts in College Student Development and Administration from Shepherd University and her Bachelor of Arts in History from Christopher Newport University.
Ruth Islas is a senior majoring in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement and a minor in Spanish. She was born in Virginia and raised in North Carolina but her background is from Honduras. Ruth is in many organizations including the Alpha Beta chapter of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/ Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., the Asian Student Organization, the Latino Advisory Committee, and the Student Government Association: Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Some of her future goals include getting a Master’s in Criminal Justice and working in the FBI or doing research on criminal justice issues.
Jarod Kirby, B.A.
Jarod Kirby is currently a first-year HESA student at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) and is a Graduate Assistant for University Housing and Residence Life. He graduated from Western Carolina University in May 2018 with a degree in Spanish and Latinx Studies. Jarod found his passion for higher education during his time as a Resident Assistant and an Orientation Office Assistant. During his time in both positions, Jarod realized his love for assisting new and returning students during their collegiate journey by not only providing them with resources on campus but also being his authentic self. Jarod plans on graduating from UofSC with an M.Ed. and continuing his work in housing or branch out and work in business operations with Emergency Management. Looking ahead, Jarod plans to pursue a doctorate, researching areas of Equity and Access for African-America/Black and Latinx Students, becoming teaching faculty and hopes to eventually become a Vice-President of Student or Academic Affairs.
Chris M. Mendoza, B.A.
Chris M. Mendoza is the Coordinator of Multicultural Student Life at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Chris advises the Latin American Student Organization (LASO) as well as provides direct support to the Asian-American Association (AAA) and Native American Student Association (NASA) on campus. His academic background is in sociolinguistics with an emphasis on Latinx masculinity and the linguistic expression of queer Latinidad. He earned a B.A. in Linguistics from Macalester College and is currently finishing his Master of Interdisciplinary Studies Degree from Southern Utah University. He is committed to building a decolonial future where sexuality, ethnicity, documentation status and other social identities serve solely as sources of pride rather than barriers to accessing higher education.
Anthony Ralph Mungo Jr.
Anthony is of African American, Panamanian, and Costa Rican descent through his paternal grandmother. He is a junior currently studying History at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a minor in Africana Studies. Anthony’s research passion for the Afro Latinx experience grew out of the need to see more Latinx people of African descent represented both in the Latin and Black communities. Growing up with an Afro Latino father and African American mother in the South meant having to explain to people his mixed-race background. After graduating from high school and entering into his freshman year of college, Anthony noticed there needed to be more conversations surrounding the intersections of Blackness and Latinidad within the greater American cultural and political landscape. He began doing social justice organizing work with the Queer People of Color Collective, based out of Greensboro NC, that allowed him to delve deep into the intersections of being black, Latinx, Queer, and Trans. Anthony served as an Outreach Coordinator from 2015-2016 with the organization while doing campus ministry work with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church also in Greensboro. His dedication and zeal to the Afro Latinx and Queer communities is not only significant but uplifting and full of love. Anthony currently serves as the Assistant Coordinator for the LGBTQ Resource Center through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Ricardo Nazario y Colón, M.S.
Ricardo Nazario y Colón is the Chief Diversity Officer at Western Carolina University (WCU), running the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Programs and serving as the campus’s primary facilitator for cross-divisional diversity initiatives. He previously served as director of the Office of Diversity Programs at Western Kentucky University and as director of student activities, inclusion, and leadership at Morehead State University. Ricardo earned a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature from the University of Kentucky, an M.S. for Teachers from Pace University (NY), and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program at WCU. Ricardo is also a founding member of the Affrilachain Poets, a grassroots group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region.
Sarah Nuñez, M.P.A.
Sarah Nuñez is a 1.5 generation immigrant born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in North Carolina. She’s a cultural worker and healer, weaving storytelling, art, practice, and movement building throughout her work, organizing and activism. She works at the University of Louisville (UofL) as Assistant Director of Cultural Center and a Lecturer with the University Honors College. She is also the Core Team Leader with Louisville Latino Education Outreach Project, Co-Director of Louisville Latinx Oral History Project, and the Kentucky representative for Latinx Knowledge Community with National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Western Carolina University as well as a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from UNC-Asheville. She is currently working on her Ph.D. with the College of Education at UofL.
Zuania Pacheco, M.S.
Zuania Pacheco was born in Puerto Rico. She received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Puerto Rico. She worked as a tutor before going into the biopharmaceutical industry for over a year before moving to mainland US to pursue higher education. Zuania Pacheco received her master’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Currently, Zuania Pacheco is an Engineering Instructor at Haywood Community College. Her passion is to understand and implement different approaches towards better health and education.
Santiago Patiño, B.S.
Santiago is a first-generation college student born in Cali, Colombia. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and was a division 1 collegiate soccer player. Currently, he is in the Physical Therapy Doctoral program at Western Carolina University.
Dean Paulk, B.S.
Dean has been working at Western Carolina University (WCU) since 2008 with the College of Business as the Administrative Support Associate for the Management Department and has been at the Career and Professional Development Center since July of 2013, starting as the Administrative Support Specialist and moving into the Internship Coordinator role in August of 2015. He has a B.S. in Sociology with a minor in Social Work from WCU and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education Student Affairs, also from WCU. Dean’s professional goal is to expand and streamline the Internship process at WCU, with an ultimate goal of seeing most (if not all) students complete an Internship in order to gain valuable experience and the skills necessary to achieve gainful employment after graduation.
Mr. Peña currently leads a great team of student affairs professionals in diversity and inclusion work as the Director of the Office of Intercultural Engagementat UNC Greensboro. He has fifteen years of experience in higher education serving in a range of roles that have included unit, divisional, and institutional responsibility for access programs, organization advising, academic support, domestic and international recruitment, student mentoring, retention initiatives, teaching, student conduct hearings, free speech policy, assessment, strategic planning, multicultural leadership development, cultural programming, staff training, policy development, staff supervision and budget management. His public service includes past membership on the State Superintendent’s Graduation Taskforce of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction and as chair of the Education Committee of Governor Bev Perdue’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. He also co-authored Appalachian State University’s Quality Enhancement Plan.
Kelly Pereira, Ph.D.
Dr. Kelly Pereira earned her Ph.D. in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching from the University of Arizona, Tucson. She is an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Spanish at UNC Greensboro. Her areas of specialization include Spanish sociolinguistics, second and heritage language pedagogy, identity, ideology, and community service-learning. Her research on these topics has been published in journals including, “Heritage Language Journal” and “Foreign Language Annals,” as well as peer-edited volumes dedicated to Spanish language research and pedagogy. Dr. Pereira is author of the recently published book, “Community Service-Learning for Spanish Heritage Learners: Making Connections and Building Identities,” which examines the integration of service-learning in Spanish heritage language teaching and the ways community-engagement impacts both heritage language learners and communities.
Anna Kristen Poteat, B.A.
Anna Kristen Poteat is the Program Assistant for the Global Engagement Office at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Geography at UNCG in May 2017. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in many areas of campus life such as orientation, leadership & service learning, intercultural engagement, and student government. As an Ecuadorian-American first gen student, Anna works to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. She is currently working on a Master’s of Education in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at UNCG.
Adie Ramirez, B.S.
Adie Ramirez is a first-generation college senior double majoring in Biology and Global studies with a minor in Latina/o Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her academic interests lie in the intersectionality of identity and focuses on the Latina experience. Alongside her schooling, Adie is an Hermana of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. and was the President of Greek Alliance Council, UNC-CH Multicultural Greek Council in 2018. She also serves as LatinxEd’s Program Assistant and is UNC Medical’s current Medical Horizons Fellow. Her hope is to be a pediatric surgeon.
Denise Ramirez is born and raised in Garner, North Carolina but both of her parents are from Mexico. She is Senior at NCCU majoring in Biomedical Sciences with an aspiration to become a pediatrician. On campus she is the treasurer of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, a member of the NCCU Dance Group, and Biology Society, as well as “Miss Raices 2018-2019” for the Latina/o organization known as Raices.
Edelmira Segovia, Ed.D.
Dr. Edelmira Segovia, Director of Centro Hispano at UNC Wilmington, is a native of Lima, Peru. Her research area is the academic success of ethnic and racial minorities, particularly of Hispanic students at selective colleges or universities. In her 20 years of work with public education, she has served populations underrepresented in higher education, taught world languages (Spanish and ELL), coordinated migrant education programs, and served as diversity and inclusion administrator. Dr. Segovia earned an Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration from the University Of North Carolina Wilmington in 2012, an M.A. in Romance Languages from Appalachian State University in 2003, and a B.A. in Spanish from the University Of North Carolina Wilmington in 1998.
Nani Suarez was born in Puerto Rico to Dominican parents. She grew up in the Dominican Republic going to Puerto Rico every summer until the age of 8, where she permanently moved to Puerto Rico and 3 years later moved to the US with no knowledge of the English language. Currently a freshmen majoring in Communications with a Public Relations concentration. She is a a member of Raices and Aguilas Afrolatinas Organizations at NCCU. She also holds a Community Spanish Interpreter Certificate. Nani’s career goal is to continue to bring awareness about Afro-latinos in the hispanic community and travel to different places to experience different cultures.
Ronda Wright, M.F.A.
Ronda Wright joined the Western Carolina University (WCU) family this year as the new Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs. She utilizes the interdisciplinary nature of art as the perfect platform to teach the value of diversity while e, Alfred, NY. She utilizes methods of social exchange that, in their tg the experiences of women, femmes, trans and non-binary folks at WCU and about creating inclusive spaces for individuals and collective learning, growth, and healing through an intersectional feminist lens.
Elaine Townsend Utin, M.Ed.
Elaine Townsend Utin – a proud Peruvian-American – is the Co-founder of LatinxEd, a non-profit organization committed to fostering Latinx youth leadership. Her mission in advocating for Latinx students, facing various financial and geographic limitations, originates from her own experiences growing up in rural NC as a 1.75-generation immigrant from a low-income, single-parent family. After earning her B.A. in Middle Grades Education at UNC-Chapel Hill, she worked in South Korea as an elementary teacher via the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. In 2016, she received her Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she studied Technology, Innovation, and Education. Alongside her fellow Cofounder, Ricky Hurtado, Elaine was recognized on the recent 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30: Education list for her work in creating pathways to educational, professional, and civic engagement opportunities for new generations of Latinx leaders in North Carolina. By designing and implementing social justice curriculum, Elaine aims to bridge gaps in our education system about the history of race/ethnicity, systemic inequities, and social change in the US South while inspiring youth to be creators, active learners, college ready, and civically ready to lead our future.