Office of Multicultural Affairs

Plenary Session Descriptions (Regular Track)

All Plenary Sessions will be held in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. The sessions will be moderated and include brief intro/opening statements by panelists and Q&A with audience. The main focus this year is for more intentional engagement and dialogue in the different sessions.

Plenary Track #1: 2:00 p.m. - 2:55 p.m.

A: Latinos in Northwest Ohio: Community & Cultural Presence

Over the last decade, the Latino/a student population at BGSU has hovered around 3.5% of all BGSU students, about the same as for the state of Ohio as a whole. However, the larger Latino/a community of Northwest Ohio dates back to the 1940s and the Latino Student Union has provided an outlet for Latino expression on the BGSU campus since being founded in 1972. Although small in number, Latinos/as in Northwest Ohio are active members of the local community and contribute to the cultural, social, political, and economic climate of Northwest Ohio. We draw on a diverse group of panelists to explore the Latino/a influence at BGSU and Northwest Ohio.

Alberto Gonzales – Chair, Department of Communication
Marsha Olivares – La Conexion/Department of Ethnic Studies, BGSU
Laura Saavedra – Counselor, Admissions Office, BGSU
Julian Ramirez – Historian, Latino Student Union, BGSU


B:  Latino Cultural Diversity: The Intersection of Race & Ethnicity

Every person is unique in their own exceptional way. Even when grouped under the same label as “Latino/a,” there is much more to a person’s identity than a single classification. Cultures vary among every individual and it is one’s experiences that tell their story. Join us for a discussion of similarities and differences within Latino cultures and why it is important to remember your roots in shaping the person who you will become. 

Luis Moreno – Instructor, Ethnic Studies
Susana Pena – Associate Prof., School of Cultural & Critical Studies
Juan Pimiento – LSU President


Plenary Track #2:  3:00 p.m. - 3:55 p.m.

A: Latino Issues in Immigration: Challenges moving forward

Latinos/as are the largest racial and ethnic minority population in the U.S. As a whole, the Latino population is young, growing, and increasingly visible. Yet, the Latino/a population is also incredibly diverse in terms of race, nation of origin, language, and immigration history, ranging from those whose families have been here for generations to recent immigrants. At the same time the Latino/a population, due to both immigration and internal migration, has grown in many areas which have not historically been immigrant ports of entry. In the Midwest in particular, this has occurred as European populations have declined. Panelists discuss the unique climate of the 21st century in which the growing Latino/a population finds itself. 

Nicole Kalaf-Hughes – Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, BGSU
Mark Heller – Senior Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equity (ABLE), Toledo
Benito Lucio – Monitor/Advocate, Ombudsman for Migrant Workers, Ohio Department of Job & Family Services
Mayra Lopez – Former Political Action Chair, Latino Student Union, BGSU
Sarah Rayfield – Treasurer, Latino Student Union, BGSU

B: The Latino/a Educational Pipeline: Past, Present & Future

Today, there are more than 10 million Latino/a students in U.S. kindergartens, elementary and high schools. This represents a doubling of Latino/a students since 1990. As a result, more than 1 in 5 public school students are Latino/a and the Latino/a school age population is expected to continue to grow through 2050. Latino/a educational attainment is at a cross-road as more Latino/a students are prepared for college and are going straight to college following graduation than ever. Yet, at the same time more than a quarter of Latino/a students do not graduate high school and Latino/a students continue to lag in post graduate education. Panelists discuss the challenges and opportunities which the large number of Latino/a students currently in K-12 represent for educators.

Eileen Bosch – Associate Professor, Library Sciences, BGSU
Jose Luna –Coordinator for Bilingual Education & Related Programs, Toledo Public Schools
Evan Lewellen – Political Action Chair, Latino Student Union, BGSU