Meet Juan Hernandez, Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Samantha Reposa

Along with the many changes that could be found on the University of New Haven campus community as students gear up to resume classes, the Office of Student Affairs branched off another affiliated office through the installation of the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion located in Botwinik Hall.

With a purpose of creating a safe space within the campus that allows students, staff, and faculty the resources to come together, the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion will foster the campus’s rich cultural diversity.

Taking on the reigns of introducing the center to the university is Juan Hernandez, who has been an activist for diversity and multicultural social justices since his high school days.

Hernandez was born on Puerto Rico, but moved with his family to Chicago, Illinois at the age of three. He is the recipient of the prestigious Posse Foundation’s Leadership Scholarship, which allowed him to attend and graduate Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut to make him not only the first person in his family to graduate from high school, but attend and graduate from a higher institution.

Through his time at Trinity College, Hernandez double-majored in political science and history while being heavily involved with the cultural organizations held on campus – primarily La Voz Latina and the Men of Color Alliance.

All his experience and leadership within multicultural affairs lead him to take the position of the Program Coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Trinity College where he worked directly with issues of diversity and retention.

After two years as Program Coordinator, Hernandez took on a different role as the executive aide for former-Hartford City Council Preisdent Shawn Wooden toward the end of his term. He then went on to work for the current City Councilwoman Glendowlyn L.H. Thames where he dealt with policy and budget issues.

As the inaugural director of the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Hernandez is ready to work with the university and it’s administration to make the center something that all could be proud of.

“My goal is to make the university a better space for students from underrepresented backgrounds,” Hernandez says. “the university’s diversity efforts are always crucial and I hope that I can assist the University in improving those efforts.”

Eventually, Hernandez is striving to establish a reliable system for students to provide programing ideas for the center, and a strong relationship between both the cultural organizations on campus and the University offices – all with the main focus on benefiting the student-body.

Until then, he plans on taking baby steps toward his long-term goals like explaining the Diversity Peer Educators program and strategizing improvements for the diversity culture on campus to shine light to students of “underrepresented” backgrounds while also recruiting faculty that are of the minority.

Hernandez already has a packed calendar for the university in terms of diversity programing that include events for Hispanic/Latin Heritage Month, Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Identity Day, and that is only the beginning of his agenda.

While Hernandez will go by standard university-set office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., he is working on utilizing the Diversity Peer Educator’s to maintain office hours past the standard scheduled times.

Be sure to stop in the Student Center of Diversity and Inclusion to learn about the new opportunities of diversity that will be more prominently showcased within UNH.

“I would love to see students from all backgrounds in the Center sitting down, talking, getting to know one another in a space that was made exactly for that,” Hernandez says.