Colorado State University Student Affairs in Higher Education master’s program alumna Lucy Delgado is passionate about creating spaces of recognition for marginalized voices. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Delgado found her calling in diversity, equity, and inclusion work while pursuing undergraduate degrees in international studies and anthropology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Working as an orientation assistant, Delgado fell in love with welcoming new students and providing a community to them.
“I think Student Affairs is the type of career people usually don’t know exists. For me, I found out about SAHE through my undergrad and working for orientation,” she said. “I found a lot of belonging, especially by getting to do equity and inclusion work in higher education and finding that niche for myself.”
Delgado came to CSU to earn her master’s degree as a way to continue her dream of working in, creating, and learning about engaging new programs centered around social justice education. She attributes her decision to Kathy Sisneros, assistant vice president of student affairs at CSU.
“The work that Kathy said I would be doing at CSU and the focus on social justice education in the SAHE program really pulled me in,” said Delgado. “I got to start a new program for students, and that really attracted me in getting to do that work here.”
The application reviewers for the SAHE program felt Delgado’s honesty and wisdom in her application materials showed her ability to self-reflect on the growth and learning that takes place throughout the program.
“My humility shapes the work I do,” wrote Delgado in her Statement of Purpose. “While this value can be interpreted as a weakness, I have found it to be one of my greatest strengths. It has allowed me to grow as a person by not assuming there are limits to my learning and accepting criticism and feedback when given. This has also shaped my interactions with others allowing myself to fully see and hear them, not only what they have to offer, but also who they are.”
Planting a SEED
Students in the SAHE program are strongly encouraged to apply for a graduate assistantship as a way to gain practical experience in student affairs, allowing them to apply the theory learned in the classroom in a real-world environment. As a diversity education and student success assistant, Delgado went above and beyond expectations by creating an entirely new program called “SEED.”
SEED, or Students Empowering and Engaging in Dialogue, is a program that provides peer-led workshops to undergraduate students. These student-led workshops aim to engage and increase students’ knowledge, awareness, understanding, and skills regarding topics of identity, inclusion, bias, and social justice.
“I had to create my assistantship and the program that I would be working in. We created a mission, a vision, values and a foundation, and established how we wanted to train students, in order to understand what we were about,” said Delgado. “Once we had that figured out, it really became easier to do the day-to-day operations – and it’s been really fulfilling ever since. ”
Working to make a difference
While creating and engaging in SEED, Delgado worked as an adviser to the President’s Multicultural Student Advisory Committee, and a small group facilitator for Campus Step-up and the Pride student leadership retreat. She also conducted research on underrepresented student populations through the Student Diversity Programs and Services cultural and resource centers, serving as the primary teaching assistant for the SAHE Global Perspectives trip to Spain over winter break, and engaging in CSUnite.
“It was fun, because it was a lot of the things that I was passionate about so I got to go in-depth with my work instead of looking at things broadly,” said Delgado. “I got to engage with more content in diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and I’m so thankful because I feel like these are lifelong skills for me – not just skills for my professional life.”
With her involvement in such a wide array of campus communities, Delgado maintained an impressive drive by remembering the community she wishes to create in the world.
“What keeps me motivated is knowing how personal this work is to me,” she said. “This has a direct impact on people’s livelihood and sense of community, both within and outside of CSU.”
‘There is work to be done’
While at CSU, Delgado created the three-line mantra, “There is beauty in becoming. There is power in being seen. There is work to be done,” to speak towards the endless journey and power of representation regarding marginalized identities. Using this mantra, Delgado reminds herself that there is always work to be done in achieving more equitable outcomes in higher education.
“I think that’s the heart of why I want to do this work, because I realize that my story as being a Queer Student of Color in higher education is not often heard,” she said. “I should not be an outlier at these intersections in higher education, and I want to change those outcomes.”
D-L Stewart, professor and co-chair of the SAHE program, said, “Lucy has been open about her feelings of imposter syndrome and how that shaped her undergraduate experience at a prestigious institution. Lucy is the embodiment of a leader, and CSU is a better campus because of her willingness to share these past two years with us.”
After graduation, Delgado returned to the East Coast to continue her work in diversity, equity, and inclusion through her new role as the program coordinator in student diversity and inclusion at the University of Delaware.
“I knew that, no matter where I ended up, I would continue doing this work in some way, shape, or form,” said Delgado. “I wouldn’t have been able to do this if it weren’t for all the students I’ve gotten to work with. I can’t thank them enough for the gift of their stories and their trust.”
The School of Education is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.