Denice Velez was recently named the director of the Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El Intercultural Center at Millersville University. She previously served as the associate director for the Dowdy Multicultural Center at West Chester University.
Velez has extensive experience, including a position at the Cross-Cultural Center and Latinx Resource Center in Southern California. “In these roles, I have enjoyed empowering students to understand their role in social justice and affirming their diverse identities,” says Velez. “I look forward to bringing these experiences to working with students with their talents, skills and passions to address similar topics.”
Velez received a bachelor’s in Ethnic Studies and Chicanx Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s of public policy and a master’s in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “My educational experience does not only encompass my time in formal educational institutions, but my interactions with various cultural communities from whom I have learned a lot,” says Velez. “Having Ethnic Studies as part of my background has provided me a lens to begin understanding the importance of centering people whose experiences have been excluded in institutions like higher education.”
With the fall semester underway, Velez has begun preparations for upcoming activities and events. “We had welcoming events for returning and new students, including activities for EPPIIC weekend, an LGBTQ+ Welcoming Reception, and a Students of Color Cookout,” says Velez. “Additionally, I am excited to be in the process of hiring student staff that will continue to bring life into the Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El Intercultural Center, where students are also able to connect with one another and learn about cultural and social justice topics.”
Velez is positively adapting to the Millersville campus and has high praise for the Millersville students. “In my time at Millersville, it has been exciting to meet student leaders who care deeply about making sure that marginalized students are supported and cared for,” says Velez. “They understand the importance of creating an environment where everyone is included and can truly live the EPPIIC values.”
Velez set goals for her new role. “I will strive to increase the support for marginalized students while at MU,” says Velez. “Also, I seek to educate and challenge our campus community to learn about social justice issues and about topics impacting diverse communities. This work can only be done in collaboration with students, staff and faculty, while centering and empowering those in the margins.”
“We need to continue to strive more to not only be accepting of diverse communities but to truly show appreciation and care,” says Velez. “I think we have great opportunities at Millersville given the resources that we have on campus, such as the talents of students, faculty, and staff, and also the experiences that the surrounding community can offer.”
For more information on the Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El Intercultural Center, click here.