Eastern Kentucky University professor, Dr. Socorro Zaragoza, has been named an EKU Fellow by President Dr. David McFaddin. This new program out of the president’s office aims to allow more opportunities for faculty of color to explore administrative roles.
“The population of EKU is changing and we want the administrators to reflect those changes as well,” said Zaragoza, “To have diverse voices and perspectives in those positions.”
Zaragoza has been at EKU for more than 10 years and is no stranger to diversity initiatives.
“I’m pretty much everywhere in terms of diversity committees,” she said, “Just pushing the agenda that diversity is important and must be part of every aspect of the university.”
She founded the Latino Student Association at EKU and works to aid minority students in enrolling and graduating college through advising and mentorship in hopes of raising retention rates.
“I am very proud to report that the enrollment of Latino students has doubled over the past four years as a result,” she said. “This student organization started with five members and has grown to more than 60 active members.”
As the Diversity Chief Officer for the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, and having served as co-chair of the EKU Diversity Committee, Zaragoza is an important voice in diversity issues across a number of spectrums in Kentucky. She has been a board member of Africa-African American Program, took part in the grant writing team for Kentucky Latino Education Alliance, and works closely with the EKU Freshman Minority Academy.
“As a faculty of color, sometimes having the role of leadership is important,” she said, “Representation is important.”
Zaragoza has co-organized several cultural and educational events that have seen an increase in participation and popularity over the years. Examples of these events are the Latino Street Fair and other events during the Latino Heritage Month, the Latino College Fair, the EKU Freshman Academy symposium, and the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp.
“I always seek to increase spaces where underrepresented students have a sense of community and feel welcome,” she said.
Zaragoza received her bachelor's degree in Mexico from the Universidad de Colima and later graduated from Purdue university with a master’s and Ph.D in Spanish and Latin American studies.
“My passion for mentoring students motivates me to seek and create services and support for underrepresented students at institutions of higher education,” said Dr. Zaragoza, “I look forward to expanding my network in order to learn from other leaders from around the state to support diverse students with obtaining a college degree.”
She hopes there will be more opportunities to come for faculty of color to occupy spaces in higher education leadership roles.