Mona Aldana-Ramirez discusses equity and its potential for students.
By Cynthia Alexis Martinez
Mona Aldana-Ramirez, director of student success for equity, diversity and inclusive excellence, is on a mission with four team members to eliminate obstacles that prohibit equity for all students.
Sitting in her cozy office in Chance Academic Center Feb. 12, Aldana-Ramirez is making plans.
Wearing a light blue turtleneck with a perfectly draped royal blue shawl and a casual half-up hairdo, she has huge dark brown eyes and a warm smile.
Mexican-inspired art hangs on the light blue and navy walls and sticky notes surround her computer monitor that is always open to her email.
“How do we empower our students?” Mona Aldana-Ramirez said. “And start self-reflecting as an institution as to what diversity means, equity means, and inclusion means?”
Aldana-Ramirez, a self-identified Tejana, is picking those inclusive and equitable pieces to make a better campus for everyone to succeed regardless of preconceived societal prejudice.
She enjoys working with her colleagues. It is something that she truly finds rewarding because in 20 or 30 years, she said, poetic justice will be served for future students, which was not the case for many students who came before.
She said building equity requires creating a foundation and awareness of things that prohibit equity.
“Those things are biases, microaggression, racism, sexism. All of those elements that drive a culture to not have equitable outcomes,” Aldana-Ramirez said. “And what we want to do is to flip that script.”
“Every couple of years the college does a strategic planning retreat and talks about the important things that we as a college need to focus on,” Aldana-Ramirez said. “Last spring equity came up.”
Later that fall, equity training began and there will be another training this summer.
Aside from workshops, faculty and staff also participate by reading books.
Aldana-Ramirez said equity is more than being impartial and fair.
“There are many facets to equity,” Aldana-Ramirez said. “There is not just one thing that we are doing because there are many things that we are trying to move forth.”
Aldana-Ramirez said that by talking and having conversations throughout our college, not just in equity department meetings, curriculum meetings, and using a curriculum that is culturally responsive that will benefit students rather than hold them back.
Aldana-Ramirez said her staff must pose many questions, such as: Who is not getting to the finish line? What does the data say? What is being done that produces equitable outcomes for students? And simply, why are students not getting to the finish line?
Finding answers will help get student one step closer to end the achievement gap.
Out of 19,385 students enrolled in fall of 2017, 6,977 students graduated.
Of those graduates, 4,264 were Hispanic — the highest total graduates — and Asians and other ethnicities combined with a total of 451.
“We need to start questioning our own institutional existence,” Aldana-Ramirez said. “Why are we here? Are we not here to serve students?”
For more information, call Mona Aldana-Ramirez at (210) 486-9864 or email her at email@example.com.