From 15 September to 15 October the United States pays homage to the generations of Hispanic/Latin@ people who have greatly influenced and contributed to the growth of the nation. During National Hispanic Heritage Month the WVC Office of Student Equity and Success sponsored the visit of Michael Benitez, Jr., an activist in social justice and leader in diversity in higher education. He is a frequent speaker and workshop leader at conferences and colleges across the nation. Currently, he is the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Puget Sound.
Mr. Benitez, Jr. talked about ethnic identity, diversity, and the small and big steps each of us can engage in our aim to being fully engaged in the process of becoming social activists. The audience consisted of about 75 students, faculty members, administrators and staff. One attendee said:
I very much enjoyed the presentation and especially loved when Michael Benitiz talked about “struggle” and passing on the history and experiences of our struggles to our children so that they can included that as part of their self-identity. The personal story that I appreciated was when he talked about his 5-year old daughter “ ‘girl-cotting’ the cafeteria” and the observation/realization that children are already aware of gender identity at such a young age.