Carina Olaru is an educator first. She started as an associate professor of Modern Languages, teaching Spanish and Portuguese, at a small liberal arts college in Illinois. There, she was the only domestic professor of color. This led to many minority students reaching out to her and sparking her desire to increase diversity awareness on college campuses. She started many programs at her prior university before starting at the director of Purdue’s Latino Cultural Center this July. She has been director for just about two months and is already making big waves her on campus. She intends to raise the visibility of the center and Latino students on campus. Her goals are to empower student, faculty, and staff and be a resource for the university as well as the West Lafayette and Lafayette communities. She also wants to assist the university in recruiting and retaining minority students.
Carina Olaru believes all the cultural centers are important. In her opinion, they “represent the underrepresented” and work hard to provide a space for minority students. The cultural centers create a community, so students of minority groups don’t feel like they are the only ones. Olaru believes the cultural centers are integral to helping students graduate on time and to recruit and retain Purdue students. She praises the cultural centers on their level of collaboration. She says the centers aren’t afraid to work with one another, because they all come from the same place, and have the same goals. Carina Olaru is very proud of the cultural centers here on Purdue’s campus.
For students interested in getting involved with the Latino Cultural Center, Olaru says the center is “what you make of it.” The center is located on north Russel street and is fully equipped with a lounge, conference room, fully-functional kitchen, as well as an ITaP computer lab and a sand volleyball court outside. “Students are more than welcome to just stop by between classes,” says Olaru, “some even nap in our lounge on the couches.” The center is open 9am-9pm Monday – Thursday, and 9am-5pm on Friday. Student organizations are able to reserve their conference room by making a reservation on their website. The center will be offering a variety of events this semester. From Spanish conversation tables, to theatre performances, and Los Dios de Los Muertos processional on October 27th. Each cultural center will have an alter to honor loved ones past, leading to the Latino Cultural Center, who will have their own alter, as well as activities and food, and the alter of the LGBTQ Center. All events hosted by the LCC are free and open to the public. Carina Olaru stresses that “everyone is welcome here,” and that the Latino Cultural Center is to serve as a home for Purdue Students. Check their website for a keep up with events and see what is happening next.