LaGuardia Community College Launches Casa de las Américas to Celebrate Latinx Heritage, Empower Students and Community Members

LaGuardia Community College Launches Casa de las Américas to Celebrate Latinx Heritage, Empower Students and Community Members

New center is first-of-its kind among CUNY two-year colleges; reflects LaGuardia’s designation as a
Hispanic-Serving Institution and leadership in educating New York’s Latinx communities

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LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (AUGUST 16, 2022)—LaGuardia Community College (“LAGCC”) has launched Casa de las Américas (“La Casa”), a center to celebrate the rich and varied traditions and history of the people of Latinx heritage from all countries of the Americas. La Casa will connect LAGCC students, faculty, staff, and community members to activities and events exploring and honoring Latinx heritage, through original programming and partnerships with local cultural and community organizations. In addition, La Casa will aim to address nationwide inequities in college achievement between Latinx communities and other groups, through expanded services and opportunities.

Casa de las Américas reflects LAGCC’s leading service to and education of New York’s Latinx communities. The college is a U.S. Education Department designated Hispanic-Serving Institution—with 47% of credit students and 71% of non-credit students identifying as Latinx. Among higher education institutions in New York State, LAGCC was among the top five colleges where Latinx students enrolled and earned degrees or certificates, according to a 2021 Excelencia in Education report.

LAGCC’s student population of over 26,000 students from 145 countries mirrors the abundant diversity of ethnicities, nationalities, cultures, and races in the college’s home borough of Queens—the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. Latinx people make up the second largest ethnic group in Queens. More than 62 million Latinx people live in the United States—18% of the nation’s population.

“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. “Casa 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.”

“Casa de las Américas is more than an academic center—it’s the new home for all that LaGuardia does to empower New York’s Latinx communities. With our student population representing almost every Latin country in the Americas, this first-of-its-kind center within CUNY will connect people and organizations from across Queens and the Americas—reflecting LaGuardia’s inclusive, welcoming spirit,” said LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams. “Casa de las Américas will expand the resources and services available to our students to help them succeed academically and professionally, narrowing the achievement gap between Latinx students and other groups.”

While nationwide the number of Latinx students attending college has been increasing in recent years, significant inequities exist in graduation rates. In 2020 just 24% of Latinx adults older than 25 had earned an associate degree or higher, while 46% of white, non-Latinx adults in the United had earned such degrees.

To address these inequities, La Casa will provide comprehensive academic and career services, including opportunities for research, scholarships, internships, and networking.

Leadership of Casa de las Américas

“Casa de las Américas will be co-led by LAGCC 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 La Casa intends to serve,” said President Adams.

“As co-directors, we are excited to use our experiences and strengths to successfully launch Casa 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.

Beginning this fall semester, Casa de las Américas will have an office on the LAGCC campus where students and others can drop-in for services and attend La Casa programming.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs . 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.


Editor’s note: LAGCC is the preferred acronym for LaGuardia Community College.

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