Interview with the Director

Interview with the Director

Mariana Cruz
Interim Director of the MRC


Hi Mariana! Let's start with a 'simple' question! Where are you from?
I am from San Juan, Puerto Rico – an island in the caribbean that is a territory of the United States.
 
What does 'multiculturalism' mean to you?
Multiculturalism means many things to me – it is a state of mind, a value-system, a way of living, a praxis, a performance, a ritual, a discourse, and an idea with love, respect and appreciation for human identity – in all its manifestations -   at the center.  
 
What is your educational background/ job experience before you came to Amherst? 
I have completed graduate studies in education with a focus on educational policy, community education and most recently cultural competency training. Prior to coming to Amherst College I worked at both Bowdoin College and Cornell University teaching classes and advising students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. I also worked with the Intergroup Dialogue Project at Cornell. 
 
How did you hear about the MRC Director position? How did you feel about getting the position? 
I saw the MRC Director position posted on the Amherst College website - I would check periodically for employment opportunities at Amherst – and immediately applied. I felt the position was quite perfect for me. Thus, I was very excited to have been offered the position. 
 
What does your role as the director of the MRC entail? 
I do many things and wear many hats at the MRC.But mostly my responsibilities include staff supervision, developing co-curricular programs, event planning, budget oversight, student advising and advocacy, orientation, student leadership training, and strategic planning.
 
What is your favorite part about your position as the Director of the MRC? 
Working with students – this is what fulfills me the most about the position. 
 
What are some challenges you have encountered as Director?
I think the greatest challenge has been getting the MRC to be an automatic resource on campus where students, staff and faculty think of and turn to for support related to diversity, multicultural and intercultural issues on campus. 
 
What is your vision for the MRC? 
This is a great question but I don't have a singular vision – it's not my philosophy. Let's co-create that vision! 
 
How has the student involvement been with the MRC? Are students actively using the space? What has your relationship been with the students?
Yes, students are increasingly using the MRC space and more and more enter the space for the first time every day. To the extent that I am available, I always make a point of welcoming students and fostering a hospitable, safe and supportive environment. I try to do this every day and I think students respect and appreciate me for this. I am happy to say I have a good relationship with students who come to the MRC. 
 
What's your favorite quote related to multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion? Why?
This is my favorite quote in general: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" - Howard Thurman.