The Latino Research Center (LRC) is one of the reasons I joined the University of Nevada, Reno faculty in 2015. During my campus visit, LRC faculty took time to meet with me and after arriving on campus, staff welcomed me con cariño. In 2016, I participated in the Latinx spring graduation ceremony as a name reader. Commencement ceremonies are always inspirational and there was something extra special about witnessing a ballroom full of Latinx students, family, faculty and staff celebrating achievement. Graduates were wearing vibrantly colored stolas while being serenaded by Mariachi and the Spanish language prominently displayed, front and center. In 2019, the LRC Director position was announced and I applied with the intention to build upon the work of former LRC directors and staff, to build a sense of familia.
At this moment in time, the Latinx population in the United States and Nevada is growing. According to U.S. census population estimates, from 2000-2010 the Latinx community grew 35 percent in Nevada and 24 percent in Washoe County, the second most populated county in the state. Moreover, the University of Nevada, Reno is an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution (H.S.I.), with approximately 23 percent of the student population identifying as Latinx. With the combined youth of the community, about 30-years-old on average and “Hispanic” being the majority of Washoe County High School minority enrollment, H.S.I. designation is imminent. The Latino community can no longer be isolated or ignored; we are a force. The Latino Research Center has the unique role of bridging the University and the community, and developing an inclusive space on campus con cariño familiar.
My vision for the Latino Research Center is to develop a continuum of programs designed to serve and support the Latinx community across the lifespan, from children and families to seniors and care partners. This includes special attention to student achievement and opportunity. Using research as a tool, the LRC will keep apprised of the community’s dynamic socio-political, educational and health needs and assets. Through collaboration, we will maximize resources and innovation. The LRC will continue to work closely with policymakers, business and community leaders, and academics and students to make sure that research findings reach the people who will benefit the most. Adelante!