By Kristine Jan Espinoza, M.Ed., Doctoral Student/Department of Educational Psychology & Higher Education/College of Education/University of Nevada, Las Vegas

I feel like I’m coming full circle.
This Friday, October 2, 2020, the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) will host the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) 2020 Southern Nevada Diversity Summit. It has been nearly a year since I, as a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new doctoral student, attended my first NSHE Southern Nevada Diversity Summit last Fall 2019 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), feeling inspired and moved by the selected speakers and workshops. I remember coming across the Summit announcement in a university-wide email blast, and immediately signing up for it in excitement. Fast forward to 2020: I will be engaging with student, faculty, and staff colleagues across NSHE in a co-facilitated Summit workshop session entitled “Exploring “Servingness” in Dual Designated Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in Southern Nevada”.
Embodying the 2020 Diversity Summit theme, “Knowledge to Action,” my colleague and friend, Luis Ortega (a college counselor at CSN and fellow UNLV doctoral student), and I hope to involve attendees in furthering their knowledge around Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), particularly AANAPISIs and HSIs, to lead to more equitable action on our respective campuses. Specifically, given that CSN, Nevada State College (NSC), and UNLV all hold dual designations as AANAPISIs and HSIs, we will cover details about the history of AANAPISIs and HSIs and their eligibility criteria, share institutional demographic data, and build from existing research to offer conceptualizations around what it means to be “serving” Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) and Latinx students to better inform policy and practice.
At its core, Luis and I chose this presentation topic because despite there being a passage of time since receiving the dual designations, we still continue to come across campus community members who do not know much detail about what being an HSI or AANAPISI even entails, let alone even know that CSN, NSC, and UNLV are duly designated. In Spring 2020, we had the privilege of taking EDH 714: Understanding MSIs, a graduate seminar with Dr. Blanca Rincón (UNLV Department of Educational Psychology and Higher Education), and the course readings and assignments spun the wheels in our brains. Dr. Rincón pushed (and continues to push) my own thinking around MSIs. While no U.S. Department of Education directive models or guidelines on how to “serve” as an AANAPISI or HSI exist, we are motivated to engage with campus members not necessarily in the classroom with us to also be equipped with this knowledge to use. Recognizing AANAPISI and HSI designations includes building awareness and knowledge around our diverse APIDA and Latinx students.

Presenting at this year’s Southern Nevada Diversity Summit while also being appointed to serve on the newly created UNLV MSI Student Council feels like both a true alignment of the stars and a deep responsibility. With my research interests in race-conscious higher education initiatives and policies, especially MSIs, it is important to me to read, research, write, and be an accomplice in this work. The Summit goal is described as a “call us to action to make changes in our daily thoughts and behaviors that affect our area of influence and beyond”. In addition to increasing the visibility of the MSI, HSI, and AANAPISI identities of CSN, NSC, and UNLV, it is equally important to understand the historical context, charge, and challenge these imply for our Southern Nevada institutions. With knowledge comes power, and an impetus to act.

Join us for the 2020 Southern Nevada Diversity Summit: https://www.csn.edu/2020-southern-nevada-diversity-summit

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