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LaGuardia Community College Launches Centro de las Américas to Celebrate the Rich, Varied Traditions and History of the People of Latino Heritage

Centro de las Américas, approved this week by the CUNY Board of Trustees, will serve as a cultural and intellectual hub in Western Queens, and provide comprehensive academic and career services to Latino heritage students and community members from all countries of the Américas

Centro Logo LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (JULY 7, 2022)—LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams has announced the official launch of Centro de las Américas to support and recognize LaGuardia’s students while also serving as a cultural and intellectual hub in Western Queens that celebrates the rich and varied traditions and history of people of Latino heritage. The new center, approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees, will become a hub for partnerships with local cultural and community organizations and will aim to connect students with opportunities, activities and events that celebrate Latino cultures for the residents of Queens.

Centro de las Américas honors LaGuardia’s designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The college has more than double the U.S. Department of Education’s minimum threshold (25 percent) of students identifying as of Latino heritage for this designation, with 47 percent of credit students and 62 percent of non-credit students identifying as Hispanic/Latino.

“I am thrilled to see the University create another space of inclusive representation, one that encompasses the vast cultural tapestry of the Americas, LaGuardia and Queens,” said CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “Centro de las Américas will galvanize Latino culture and studies in Western Queens and provide holistic support services and career engagement opportunities to students of Latino heritage. It will also serve as a conduit to promote beneficial partnerships between CUNY and community-based organizations. I congratulate President Adams and look forward to a bright future for this remarkable new center.”

“Centro de las Américas is the first and only center at a CUNY community college offering comprehensive academic and career services to Latino heritage students and peoples from all countries of the Americas, rather than just one country or region. It will connect research and scholarship to services and networking opportunities that Latino heritage students need to succeed academically and professionally. I look forward to seeing all that Centro de las Américas brings to LaGuardia and our community. ¡Felicidades!” said President Kenneth Adams.

Leadership of Centro de las Américas

“Centro de las Américas will be co-led by LaGuardia professors Dr. Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez and Dr. Ryan Mann-Hamilton. Their research, service, and teaching experiences directly relate to the Center’s mission, and their personal experiences growing up in bilingual and bicultural homes, have provided them both a deep understanding of the population Centro de las Américas intends to serve,” said President Adams.

“As co-directors, we are excited to use our experiences and strengths to successfully launch Centro de las Américas, to develop cultural programming, expand networks across the city, and pursue opportunities that reflect the diversity of the Latinx community within and outside of LaGuardia Community College,” said Drs. Rodríguez and Mann-Hamilton.

Dr. Rodríguez, associate professor of English, specializes in the teaching and research of Latinx Studies, Gender and Sexuality studies, twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, and children’s literature. She earned a PhD and master’s in English from the University of California Riverside, an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from The City College of New York, and a bachelor’s in English and Latinx Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Mann-Hamilton, associate professor of Anthropology, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, focuses his teaching and research on themes of displacement, nation making, environmental justice, Afro-Latinx social movements and more recently, food sovereignty. He earned his PhD in Anthropology from The CUNY Graduate Center with a concentration in Africana Studies and holds a master’s in Environmental Systems and a bachelor’s in International Studies from Humboldt State University.

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LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high quality, affordable college education.