Ethnic affairs director to be advocate, organizer

LaTanya Lowery, director of ethnic affairs at Clovis Community College, right, helps students Marisela Rivera, 17, left, and Kim Glotzbach, 19, look for job openings. Photo by Eric Kluth.

By Helena Rodriguez

LaTanya Lowery describes her new role at Clovis Community College as an advocate, a resource person, a public relations officer, a student activities planner, a recruiter, a cultural events organizer and a liaison between the campus community, the community-at-large and the president’s office.
When students return to classes Monday, Lowery will be the welcoming face holding the newly created title of Director of Ethnic Affairs. She began her duties last month.
“Clovis Community College is a diverse community and I’m looking to help increase and promote that,” Lowery said.
“If a student has an issue, they can stop by and I will help them,” Lowery said. “I will also be helping with events, from Cinco de Mayo to Black History Month, and doing a lot of collaboration with other offices.”
She said her mission is to be an advocate for students.
“It will be a safe place for students to come and express their concerns or ideas, and it will be all-inclusive,” she said.
Clovis Community College President Beverlee McClure said the college has been trying to offer cultural and ethnic educational opportunities for students and felt a need to create a position to coordinate such efforts for all students.
“We have the Hispanic Student Association, the Black Student Union, the International Club and offer many celebrations for holidays and events special to each ethnicity. We also plan our Cultural Art Series to focus on ‘Celebrating Our Differences,’” McClure said. “To be more effective, we decided that we needed a position to tie everything together and help us weave these opportunities into all we do.”
The new position is not a response to a lawsuit filed against the college in January by Laura Jane Flores, CCC’s former dean of instruction, McClure said. In the lawsuit, which is still pending, Flores alleges she was wrongly terminated because of employment discrimination.
Lowery, a product of a community college herself, comes to CCC fresh out of school.
She received a master of arts degree in communications from Eastern New Mexico University in May and is beginning her new post with hopes of learning from students as well.
“When you work with a diverse population, you have to be open-minded. I’m going in with the idea of ‘What can I learn from them?’”
Lowery, 31, said she grew up a “military brat.” She has lived in Italy, England and Germany; and she’s taken Spanish classes. She plans to take more classes to become fluent in Spanish.
Lowery received an associate of arts degree from Midland College in Texas and her bachelor of arts degree in political science from Marymount College of Fordham University in Tarrytown, N.Y. She interned with ABC’s “Live With Regis,” TV show in 2001.
“If you can talk to someone who has been in your situation, it helps. Sometimes we can be our own stumbling block,” Lowery said. “And it’s just like the saying, sometimes, ‘Two heads are better than one.’”
Lowery said she worked her way and paid her way through college. Her plans at first were to get an associate’s degree, but she continued on for a bachelor’s and was encouraged by a college professor to pursue a master’s degree at ENMU. She hopes to eventually earn a doctorate degree.
As part of her job, Lowery will be working with area churches, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Clovis’ Cultural/Ethnic Affairs Committee, Cannon Air Force Base Cultural Observance Committee, The Oasis Children’s Advocacy Center and Leadership Clovis.
Lowery is looking forward to helping other students pursue their educational goals. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes,” she said, “as long as you get there.”