CWU News

Latinx Higher Education Leader Addresses Central Washington University

Daisy Verduzco Reyes talks with CWU students, faculty, and staff following her Wednesday night campus presentation.The way in which universities address the needs of their Latinx students profoundly impacts how those students perceive their own cultural identities, and those of their student peers. That was the conclusion of Daisy Verduzco Reyes in her 2018 book, “Learning to be Latino: How Colleges Shape Identity Politics.”

Considered among the most influential members of the Latinx higher education community, Reyes discussed her two years of research into the topic during a public presentation at Central Washington University last night (Wednesday, October 23). Reyes, a professor in the Department of Sociology and El Instituto: The Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies at the University of Connecticut, said there was one key takeaway from her presentation.

“It would be that it’s important for all students who belong to historically underrepresented groups in higher education to feel that they belong on their campuses,” she explained. “It’s the task of every campus to think about what the best way is to do that. Every place has different areas of growth and taking an assessment of what those are is really important.”

About 75 students, faculty, and staff heard Reyes’s presentation and took part in a question-and-answer session that followed. Reyes was introduced by Dan Beck, director of CWU’s El Centro Latinx for Latino and Latin American Studies.

“All of our faculty here want to support our students,” Beck said. “But I don’t think we all understand their needs, their cultures or identities. Knowing these things can help us in the way we teach, support, and connect with our students, and show that we believe in them, so they feel like they belong. I think that was a really important point that was made tonight.”

Beck went on to say finding the best ways to serve Latinx students is not only the right thing to do, but it will benefit the university overall.

“There’s great diversity within diversity and that’s very interesting,” Beck pointed out. “Latinx students are not all the same. They come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives and different affinities. I want to find ways to connect our Latinx students with other non-Latinx students to develop a better sense of inclusion. It’s awesome how much Latinx students have to offer. That two-way interaction is something we really need to develop.”

Thursday at 3 p.m., Reyes will participate in an open, public panel discussion on Latinx issues. It will be held in the CWU Brooks Library Commons. Afterward, she will sign copies of her book, which will be available for purchase. Then, at 7 p.m., Reyes will take part in a community panel discussion at the Iron Horse Brew Pub in downtown Ellensburg.

While on her four-day visit to the Ellensburg campus, Reyes is also holding group sessions with students, faculty, and staff; and visiting classes to assess CWU’s interactions with its growing Latinx student population. She says she has already learned that students desire to see increased faculty diversity on campus.

“They also expressed a need for advisors that have culturally relevant ways of approaching and advising them,” she added. “Those are common concerns on many campuses.”

Reyes is scheduled to discuss her observations with university administrators on Friday. 


Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

Photo: Daisy Verduzco Reyes talks with CWU students, faculty, and staff following her Wednesday night campus presentation.