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Dr. Sandra Quinones to be Keynote Speaker at Vincennes University Latino Culture Night Event

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University's international student population includes many who trace their origin or descent to various Spanish cultures. An International Cultural Banquet highlighting Latino Engagement will be held on February 28, 6 p.m. EST, at VU's Green Activities Center, 120 W. Harrison Street.

VU Latino students will give a presentation and special guest Sandra Quiñones, Ph.D., will speak.


With her father working as a civilian engineer for the Navy in their native Puerto Rico, Sandra Quiñones grew up attending an on-base U.S. Department of Defense school. She had few Latino teachers, started learning English in kindergarten, and took her first Spanish class in middle school. She took a 30-minute bus ride to get there while her neighborhood friends attended local schools.

"When I went home I was not the black sheep, but I was definitely the gringo, the American girl," she recalls. "It was like living in two worlds."

Quiñones hopes to bridge those worlds for the one in five Latino public school students in this country - students who rarely see teachers who look like them, have a high dropout rate, and are often misperceived as "uneducated and unable to succeed." She wants to spotlight inspirational stories of achievement and help Latino students accept, and even take pride in, their place in a bilingual, bicultural society.

"It's really hard when you go to school because there's a lot of pressure to assimilate," she says. "There's a feeling that you're giving up something. But you're not, really. You can add to what you already know."

An educator for nearly a decade at the elementary, secondary, and college levels in New York State and Puerto Rico, Quiñones seeks to prepare new educators to think critically about how their backgrounds and viewpoints impact the way they teach. She has seen the effects through research on the retention of Latino students in college and on community reform efforts in an area with a large Hispanic population.

"I feel a civic responsibility to be an advocate," says Quiñones "I'm not just doing this for me. It's really about who I represent in my community."
Dr. Quiñones earned her Ph.D. from the University of Rochester as a Provost's Fellow and a 2009 American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Graduate Fellow, one of only 12 selected nationwide. She has published in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, School Community Journal, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, and the NABE Journal of Research and Practice. In 2016, she was awarded the Duquesne University School of Education Early Career Award for Excellence in Scholarship.