Latinx Student Center director takes stock of his mission, National Hispanic Heritage Month
Emmanuel Padilla says his goal is to ‘authentically establish visibility for Latinx-identifying students’
On Sept. 14, one day before the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, San Francisco State University marked a milestone of its own: The University’s new Latinx Student Center officially opened its doors with a bienvenida/opening celebration. The center’s inaugural director, San Francisco native Emmanuel Padilla, might be relatively new on the job, but he’s already got lots of thoughts about Latinx students, San Francisco State and Latino culture and heritage. SF State News asked him to share some of those thoughts in a Q&A interview.
What’s the mission of the Latinx Student Center, and how’s it been going so far?
The mission of the Latinx Student Center is to authentically establish visibility for Latinx-identifying students. My vision is for students to have autonomy when they come into the center, where they step into their comfort zones and develop a sense of agency needed to navigate higher education. Autonomy, authenticity and humor is the energy one feels at the center. The goal is for that energy to be translated to other parts of campus.
It has been going great. There is a lot of foot traffic at the center and students are taking ownership of it. I learn something new every day, and so do folks that visit the center. My intention is for students to not only come visit, but to come back.
Why do you think the Latinx Student Center is important?
Students need to be affirmed. Be it first-year students, transfer students or re-entry students, students need to be seen as people. Navigating higher education is confusing for all, especially those that identify as first-generation and/or first in their family to attend college. Thus, the Latinx Student Center is important to create a confidence and reaffirm identities.
What does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Growing up in San Francisco and attending public school here, I knew that my education was skewed. My family is from Mexico, and I didn’t learn anything about my history or of authentic California history until I went to college. Saying that, this month serves as an accountability check for myself to promote not only the center, but the intersections of culture, art, history, food, language and experience.
The Latinx Student Center is located in Village C, Room 140. The center has been holding National Hispanic Heritage Month events each Wednesday at 4 p.m. Send an email to EmmanuelPadilla@sfsu.edu for details.