Strength, culture, hard work and solidarity – just a few words that were highlighted Tuesday during a panel discussion led by Hispano/Latinx leaders around campus as Hispanic Heritage month comes to an end.

"There will be people who criticize your decisions but there will also be people who value your questions – know that there were a lot of people who fought for you to have this space to be here." - Professor Nancy López, UNM assistant vice president for Equity and Inclusion

The hour-long Zoom Q&A, ‘Resilience through Culture,’ was hosted by The University of New Mexico Division for Equity and Inclusion as part of its new series, Diversity Dialogue. The diverse panel from across campus helped spark conversation about how their culture has helped them survive, and thrive, in their personal and professional lives – and during their time at UNM.

DIALOGUES

Diversity Dialogue panel:

  • Assistant Professor Luis Herrán Ávila | UNM History and Latin American Studies
  • Assistant Professor Francisco J. Galarte | UNM American Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Assistant Professor Maricarmen Hernández | UNM Department of Sociology
  • Professor Nancy López | UNM assistant vice president for Equity and Inclusion
  • Eddie Nuñez | UNM director of athletics
  • Gina Urias-Sandoval | UNM Health Sciences Center EVP/CEO chief of staff

The dialogue began with an introduction of the panel and a quick explanation about what drove each of them into careers within higher education. The audience then led a live Q&A session with panelists discussing several topics including, how to remain connected and encourage others when there is underrepresentation in academia? 

“For me, it's about trying to bring our academic work to bear on settings outside the university setting and into the larger communities, and to share stories about what it means to be Latinx, not just as a faculty member, but also at a personal level,” Herrán Ávila said. “Our personal stories and our particular experiences grappling with being Latinx in academia can be illuminating and helpful for others who are also trying to navigate those complex issues, whether inside or outside of academia.”

The panel was also asked to unpack and reflect upon aspects of their cultural background/cultural pride that have historically oppressed others within this larger community called Latinx/Hispanic?

“I work to dismantle these systems of oppression that are impacting a whole group of people by using them as an opportunity for self-reflection to practice solidarity,” López said.

The dialogue ended with each panelist asked to discuss the advice they wished they would have received as a young Hispano/Latinx within the world of academia? 

“I wish I had known or been told that our ways are powerful and are not shortcomings- in speaking, planning, organizing, writing, and connecting with others,” Hernández said. “I spent years trying to adapt to more linear forms, and now I can see that non-linearity is great and can produce amazing work. I now realize it, and I wish I'd known that sooner.”

“Do what you love and follow your passion. There will be people who criticize your decisions but there will also be people who value your questions – know that there were a lot of people who fought for you to have this space to be here. Don’t let anyone shake your confidence,” López concluded.