CLC's dean of student life named national Hispanic leadership fellow
College of Lake County has announced Dean of Student Life Dr. Gabe Lara was chosen to participate in the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Development Program as a 2021 Fellow.
This prestigious program is designed to develop a pool of highly qualified Latinx professionals whose career interest focuses on assuming increasingly responsible administrative positions, with the goal of becoming a community college president.
The NCCHC's primary purpose is to prepare strong leaders for the future, a commitment Lara is very excited to pursue as he trains to gain the necessary knowledge and skills needed to lead higher education into the future.
"It is my responsibility to create spaces for students charged with enhancing their educational experience to empower them inside and outside of the classroom," Lara said.
As a Latino first-generation college student, Lara never saw anyone who looked like him in an administrator role while he was a student on campus. For this reason, he hopes to normalize the idea that someone who looks like him can be dean, vice president or president of an institution of higher education.
"My goal is to not only center Latinx student voices in the decisions we make as administrators, but to include them to be part of that change," he said.
"Throughout the years, having worked with so many students with varying identities, I have developed new strategies that allow me to transform and grow in this field."
As a student, Maria Fernandez worked with Lara while chief of staff for the Student Government Association.
"He helped us with so many things, and he takes our ideas and opinions into account because he cares about the students. It shows he is truly here to serve the students and to make a difference at the college," she said.
The fellowship gives Lara a chance to further develop his leadership skills and challenge himself among his peers.
"I know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to better serve students of all generations," Lara said, "but the key is to include diverse methods, modalities and techniques in order to address an integrated way of moving forward."
Lara joined CLC in July 2020 during the pandemic. His strong leadership skills were immediately on display as he adeptly handled a series of critical issues, and he was quick to build relationships and actively listen to gain insights on all perspectives.
He demonstrated leadership in navigating these and other important issues, and he continues to build a vision for the student life team in alignment with the college's strategic plan to support transformative work in a student-focused culture.
"The knowledge I will gain from this experience will enhance my leadership abilities through an equitable and inclusive lens, impacting not only students, but my team and colleagues," Lara said.