Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Cross-Cultural Champion

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Cross-Cultural Champion

Article excerpt

Upon immigrating to the United States 13 years ago to earn his doctorate, Dr. Carlos Evia, a native of Mérida, Mexico, was determined to not allow his ethnicity define his experiences. To earn his Ph.D. in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech University, Evia focused his dissertation, titled Technical Communication Learning on the U.S.Mexico Border: Factors Affecting Cross-Cultural Competence in Globalized Settings, on studying issues between racial groups; still, he didn't necessarily intend to get involved with issues that affected the Hispanic community.

"To a certain degree, I wanted to forget about my Mexican heritage," Evia says, until a situation arose that forced him to face issues of discrimination.

At the time, Evia was an assistant professor at Virginia Tech. He was called in to the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech by police to translate for two construction workers who had been badly beaten after asking for their wages.

"Even if you want to avoid [race issues], you can't," says Evia, adding that he was given one valuable piece of advice from Virginia Tech's then-vice president of multicultural affairs, Dr. Benjamin Dixon, that standing up for racial injustices is not just a challenge but "an opportunity."

Years later, Evia has not only served on the leadership team of the Center for Innovation in Construction Safety and Health Research, but he's chaired the Hispanic Caucus at VT and spearheaded Hispanic student graduation ceremonies.

"For many of the students, it's a huge accomplishment," says Evia, now a tenured associate professor and director of professional writing in the English Department at Virginia Tech. "They are firstgeneration students, and earning a college degree is not just big for them but for their families. Your abuelito [grandfather] or abuelita [grandmother] is going to be uncomfortable at graduation - it's going to be hot and long. This event helps them feel comfortable and builds a sense of community," says Evia.

Though Evia's family has been in academia for three generations, and he can't necessarily relate to the struggles of many first-time college-goers, he believes it's his duty to help create a support system for Latino faculty and students on campus. …

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