Pedroso Center restructuring, opens space to community, creates research center


NEIU student Alfredo Palafox reads the Independent next to the Angelina Pedroso for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs Research Center

Cecilia G. Hernandez, Writer

Operations Assistant Michael J. Partipilo said the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs is “going through a restructuring.” Instead of having six resource centers specializing in specific cultural groups, the Pedroso Center now has two assistant directors who offer intercultural resources for students at NEIU.

“We used to have the different resource centers, and it was a more monocultural approach. And now we’re having it as a more intercultural center,” Partipilo said.

The assistant directors are Dear Aunaetitrakul and Naseeb Kaur Bhangal.

Aunaetitrakul specializes in gender and sexuality education. She is the advisor to the LGBTQIA+ student organization on campus, Pride Alliance. Aunaetitrakul coordinates and manages the Queer Talks Series, LGBTQIA+ History and HerStory months, the upcoming Latinx/a/o Heritage Month, and the Pandora’s Box Series.

Bhangal specializes in race and ethnicity education. She also coordinates the Heritage Month programs like Native/Indigenous Month, Black Heritage Month, and Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi-American Heritage Month. Bhangal will be reviving the Scholars Achieving College Success (SACS) Mentorship program for first-year students of color.  

SACS is a year-long program where elected students will be matched with an advisor who is a  faculty or staff member. Elected students will participate in bi-monthly gatherings focused on academic, social and financial success to help them navigate NEIU and succeed in their studies.

To apply for the SACS program, visit Applications for the SACS program are open now until Sept. 13. Email Naseeb Bhangal for more information at [email protected].

Bhangal plans on establishing a diversity council with the cultural student organizations on campus in the upcoming weeks. Bhangal also said she will be initiating “Las Comadres.”

“Las Comadres is to create an empowering environment for femme people and women with an ‘x’ [womxn] to network and converse with each other as it relates to race and ethnicity,” Bhangal said. “Because it’s in solidarity, we can’t have one without the other.”

Bhangal said she’s finalizing the details for meeting times and location for “Las Comadres” and will announce it within the next couple of weeks.

In addition to having a more intercultural approach, the Pedroso Center now hosts a Research Center and is creating a paperless reserving system for the rooms within the Pedroso Center.

The Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs creates Research Center

The Pedroso Center develops and provides programming and initiatives “in a welcoming environment designed to educate, empower and retain students from socially and culturally diverse backgrounds,” according to their website.

One of their new initiatives is developing a Research Center for NEIU’s students, staff and faculty. The NEIU community members are able to check out books from five areas of study: “Latinx Studies,” “African/African-American Studies,” “Intercultural and Intersectional Studies,” and “Gender, Sex and Sexuality Studies.”  Bhangal oversees the Research Center with the help of the Pedroso Center’s student aides. The Research Center opened its services on Aug. 6.

Bhangal said one of her top priorities is to ensure the NEIU community has equitable access to the Center’s resources by raising awareness of the existence of the Pedroso Center.  

“The main resource I offer [to students] is the Pedroso Center,” Bhangal said. “It’s to let them know that, ‘Hey! This center exists for you.’”

Going Paperless: Form for Reserving rooms within the Angelina Pedroso Center is online

The Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs now offers an online form to reserve rooms within its space for the NEIU community. Students and faculty are able to request the north lounge, west lounge, or the entire center for NEIU-related events and programs.

“In the past, I don’t think there was always that accessibility or awareness of how can we engage in this space [the Pedroso Center] if we’re not the staff too,” Bhangal said.

Aunaetitrakul said the Pedroso staff decided to upgrade their reserving system to avoid scheduling conflicts.

“We noticed that folks hand in the [reserving] form and then it gets lost in translation,” Aunaetitrakul said. “Sometimes people would email me or Michael to reserve space and that gets to be too much. We clash and that’s why a lot of conflict begins between us.

Aunaetitrakul said the Pedroso team wanted to save paper but also streamline the requests so that the process becomes centralized and paperless.

“The space is limited and also the priority will be given to the Pedroso Center and SLD, and so that’s why to kind of streamline, and that’s why we decided to roll out a form that is easy and accessible to everybody,” Aunaetitrakul said.

*Corrections: Michael J. Partipilo is the Operations Assistant of the Angelina Pedroso Center, not the Operations Director. The online version of this story reflects this correction.

Disclaimer: Cecilia G. Hernandez is a student aide at the Angelina Pedroso Center.