New center to support, celebrate people of Latino heritage

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams has announced the official launch of Centro de las Américas. The center will support and recognize LaGuardia’s students while also serving as a cultural and intellectual hub in Western Queens that celebrates the rich and varied traditions and history of people of Latino heritage.

The new center, approved by the CUNY board of trustees, will become a hub for partnerships with local cultural and community organizations and will aim to connect students with opportunities, activities and events that celebrate Latino cultures for the residents of Queens.

Centro de las Américas honors LaGuardia’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The college has more than double the U.S. Department of Education’s minimum threshold (25%) of students identifying as of Latino heritage for this designation, with 47% of credit students and 62% of non-credit students identifying as Hispanic/Latino.

“I am thrilled to see the University create another space of inclusive representation, one that encompasses the vast cultural tapestry of the Americas, LaGuardia and Queens,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “Centro de las Américas will galvanize Latino culture and studies in Western Queens and provide holistic support services and career engagement opportunities to students of Latino heritage. It will also serve as a conduit to promote beneficial partnerships between CUNY and community-based organizations. I congratulate President Adams and look forward to a bright future for this remarkable new center.”

“Centro de las Américas is the first and only center at a CUNY community college offering comprehensive academic and career services to Latino heritage students and peoples from all countries of the Americas, rather than just one country or region. It will connect research and scholarship to services and networking opportunities that Latino heritage students need to succeed academically and professionally. I look forward to seeing all that Centro de las Américas brings to LaGuardia and our community. ¡Felicidades!” President Adams said.

Centro de las Américas will be co-led by LaGuardia professors Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez and Ryan Mann-Hamilton.

“Their research, service, and teaching experiences directly relate to the Center’s mission, and their personal experiences growing up in bilingual and bicultural homes, have provided them both a deep understanding of the population Centro de las Américas intends to serve,” Adams said.

“As co-directors, we are excited to use our experiences and strengths to successfully launch Centro de las Américas, to develop cultural programming, expand networks across the city, and pursue opportunities that reflect the diversity of the Latinx community within and outside of LaGuardia Community College,” said Rodríguez and Mann-Hamilton.

Rodríguez, associate professor of English, specializes in the teaching and research of Latinx Studies, Gender and Sexuality studies, twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, and children’s literature. Mann-Hamilton, associate professor of Anthropology, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, focuses his teaching and research on themes of displacement, nation making, environmental justice, Afro-Latinx social movements and more recently, food sovereignty.

This article was originally posted here.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.