Cultural Life Education Team

“To build community requires vigilant awareness of the work we must continually do to undermine all the socialization that leads us to behave in ways that perpetuate domination.” – bell hooks

ABOUT US

The Cultural Life Education Team is a group of trained facilitators that meets the need for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion education across the Northeastern network including but not limited to:

Student organizations or student leaders seeking to be more inclusive and hold a social-justice mindset.

Academic departments and student support centers assisting students at various intersections of identity.

Faculty interested in adapting intercultural pedagogical practices in the classroom.

Collectives interested in building leadership skills rooted in intercultural communication and creating authentic relationships across difference. 

THE VISION

We work to develop a community for educators on campus to learn how to facilitate and hold space as trained DEI professionals. This team helps meet the demand for DEI education across the Northeastern global network. Due to increasing demand for DEI-related training, the Cultural Life Education Team was formulated in 2019 by the former Director of the Center for Intercultural Engagement, Karin Firoza. This team has developed a cohort of strong intercultural and critically conscious educators on campus. These educators operate as trainers, presenters, facilitators, consultants, active listeners, connectors, and resources for Northeastern learners. This team facilitates the LIBRE (Leading Inclusion and Belonging with Resources and Education) Series and other ad hoc training requests

OUR PRACTICE

The Cultural Life Education team provides a series of opportunities that are designed to expand the skill level of Northeastern learners regarding Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We accept ad hoc training requests and facilitate a core series for students called  LIBRE (Leading Inclusion and Belonging with Resources and Education) Series with the following objectives for Northeastern students: 

Critically reflect on their multiple identities and confront their social positioning within the systems we navigate.

Expand foundational intercultural engagement skills and an understanding of a social-justice framework to engage authentically across difference with Northeastern community members and work toward systems change. 

Develop a social justice and identity conscious lens and adopt justice-oriented values through a theory to practice action project.

 

MEET OUR FACILITATORS

Ashley Armand

Assistant Director, Center for Intercultural Engagement

Ashley started working at the CIE-SJRC after pursuing careers in academic advising and public policy. She is passionate about centering our experiences and narratives as a catalyst for growth and engagement. Ashley hopes that the collective Northeastern community feels encouraged to present in ways that fulfill their highest good. She also hopes that all of us, in collaboration, can continue to move through the rhythms of life’s currents with joy, laughter, and intentional learning.

Ashley believes in the power of storytelling and the revolutionary commitment we should all have to cultivate tranquility— in all the ways this shows up for us in our lives, even in uncertainty.

Ashley comes from a background in research, public policy, and technology. She previously operated in the nonprofit sector for several years— predominantly in the immigration sector. She’s also worked on research projects centered on social capital and surveillance. Ashley holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology minoring in Theoretical and Applied Ethics.

Naomi Boase

Director, Center for Intercultural Engagement

Naomi is originally from Grand Rapids, MI, and currently serves as the Director of the Center for Intercultural Engagement and Social Justice Resource Center. She believes that an analysis of power and privilege in intercultural engagement is essential to developing and maintaining authentic relationships. Naomi advocates for spaces in which we can learn about ourselves (the diversity within) and one another (the diversity around us). Prior to working at Northeastern, Naomi was based in Jordan and Palestine where she focused on psychosocial responses to the Syrian crisis.

Naomi holds a Master of Science in Violence, Conflict, and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and a Bachelor of Arts in international studies from Taylor University.

Fun Fact: I had a Mullet in 2008 

Victoria Ellis

 Residence Director, Boston Campus

My name is Victoria Ellis (she/her/hers) and I am one of the Residence Directors on the Boston Campus! I started at Northeastern two years ago and prior to that received my master’s degree in Education from Suffolk University.

Fun Fact: I am a thrill seeker!

Ariele Grande

Residence Director, Boston Campus

Hello! My name is Ariele and some of my salient identities are: first-generation college student, first-generation Filipinx American, nonbinary femme, womxn of color, panromantic and demisexual. Social justice work is heart work and I am grateful for this opportunity to share space with you all and grow together through our collective learning, (un)learning, and (re)learning. I will soon be leaving Northeastern for my new position as a Resident Director at Santa Clara University in California. If you’d like to stay connected, feel free to email me at ariele.grande@gmail.com or connect with me on social media like Instagram (@arielegrr).

Fun Fact: My cat’s name when I adopted her was Ariel (but I call her “Ari” for short/so my neighbors don’t think I’m just talking to myself.)

Isaiah Johnson

Program Coordinator, Asian American Center

Isaiah is a passionate community builder who believes in the importance of creating community spaces that encourage mutual uplift and support. He received his BA from Harvard with a concentration in History and Literature and a focus on Ethnic Studies, and is now proud to serve the Asian American community at Northeastern.

Having come to better understand his mixed-race identity during his own undergraduate years, he is thrilled to have the chance to connect with students as they explore their own multifaceted identities and navigate their college experience. Isaiah is also a musician and singer and loves spending time in the outdoors, especially with his family and friends.

Rachel Moo

Director, Asian American Center

Rachel is a facilitator who looks to connect the world through the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion through social justice-driven research, education, and advocacy using programming and community engagement. She aims to build community that is founded on inclusion and collaboration.

Fun fact: Rachel is an avid sports fan and her previous work allowed her to promote a paradigm shift that sports are more than just the scoreboard and believes sport can bridge cultural gaps, resolve conflict and educate people in a way that few other activities can.

Hing Potter

Assistant Director, Student Services (San Francisco and Silicon Valley)

Hing serves as the Assistant Director of Student Services for Northeastern’s Bay Area campuses, San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Hing supports in providing an optimal #NUexperience as students explore and engage in areas of personal and professional interests for a complete collegiate experience.

Hing strongly believes education, cultural experiences and social justice help build a more just and inclusive world. He received his Bachelor’s in International Relations from Boise State University and holds a Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Northeastern University College of Professional Studies.

Fun fact: I actually am related to a Harry Potter, but in my family he was better known as Papa Herald.

Sagar Rajpal

Associate Director, Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, & Service

Sagar Rajpal is originally from Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay), India, and graduated from Northeastern University with a Master of Science in Engineering Management. He has been involved with spiritual and community service centers in Bombay since 2010 and in Boston since 2015. As the Sr. Assistant Director of Spiritual Life at a global institution like Northeastern University, he strives to make resources of spirituality, dialogue, and social action accessible on digital and virtual platforms for students, faculty, and staff across Northeastern’s global campus network. Sagar works with a dedicated team of over 70 Spiritual Advisors and Affiliates to help NU community members become engaged citizens, peacebuilders, and leaders equipped to tackle pressing global problems.

Fun Fact: Sagar curates the menu and cooks an elaborate brunch every Sunday for him and his friends, and documents it on IG:  IG: @dailyindianmeal (Links to an external site.)

Carla Rodriguez

Program Liaison, The N.U. in Program

Carla is a Program Liaison with the N.U.in Program in the Global Experience Office. Carla has been with the team for two years and worked with the N.U.in England and N.U.in Ireland locations. She earned her B.S. in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences as well as her M.Ed. in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Florida.

Her professional experiences include work in New Student & Family Programs at UNC Chapel Hill, Multicultural Affairs and Fraternity & Sorority Life at Duke University, and Academic Advising at Santa Fe College. She also sailed as a staff member on the Fall 2013 voyage of Semester at Sea. Carla recently completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training, loves to take dance classes, travel, and read in fun places.

Fun Fact: She volunteered for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Dani Rodriguez

Program Manager, Social Justice Resource Center & Center for Intercultural Engagement

Born in Venezuela and raised in Texas, Dani has always been surrounded by diverse cultures, identities, and individuals. She earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree in Political Science and International Affairs (NU’21) and is completing her Master of Science in Security and Resilience Studies (NU’22). She is passionate about exploring how intersectional identities and intercultural opportunities can foster community-based resiliency. As such, Dani strives to continually inform decisions, programming, engagement, and herself from multiple perspectives, working to ensure that all members of the community are heard, represented, and supported. Other passions and interests for Dani include systems of education, systems of inequity and inequality, and art as a tool for expression (particularly painting, the written word, and music).

Fun Fact: I have synesthesia, so I smell in color! Alternatively, I am obsessed with giraffe

Salter Scharstein

Program Manager, Center for Intercultural Engagement

Salter has a history of working in higher education, community organizing, and youth development work. Their passions for grassroots community organizing, facilitation, and justice- and equity-focused work were born out of their experiences learning and working within local and regional grassroots anti-racist and queer liberation movement spaces in the U.S. South. Their socialization into anti-oppressive equity work provided the foundation for them to collaboratively establish and develop a need-based grants program for trans and gender non-conforming people in South Carolina, as well as to become involved in supporting LGBTQIA2S+ young people.

Knowing that liberatory growth, learning, healing, and change is most possible in community, they are equal parts excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work as a member of a justice- and equity-focused team that centers relationships and fosters access to experiences of belonging. Currently, Salter finds joy and inspiration in disco dance parties, loud laughter, moments of connection and compassion, savory snacks, and the writing of bell hooks, Lama Rod Owens, and Lou Sullivan.

Fun Fact: “Salter once tried to help diffuse a conflict among housecats by consulting a telephone pet psychic!”

Hamidou Sylla

Program Manager, Center for Intercultural Engagement & Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, & Service

Hamidou Sylla (Hammi) grew up in the Bronx, NY but is originally from Guinea Conakry. He studied Political Science and Francophone Studies at St. Lawrence University (SLU ’21); where he was involved in many areas around campus life. He is currently pursuing his Master of Public Policy at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (NU ’22).

Hammi is excited to interact and work with fellow students and colleagues. He is passionate about building community across differences and ensuring that everyone has access to the resources they need to thrive. In his free time, you can catch him working on his talk show (Let’s Just Talk! With Hammi) which you can find on Instagram and YouTube. Through joy, knowledge, and experience, he seeks to bring communities together. He is passionate about issues of race, equity, and justice, and enjoys the arts (Slam Poetry, Theater, and Comedy). He is eager to assist CSL and student initiatives in whatever way he can.

Michelle Wallace

Assistant Director, LGBTQA Resource Center

Michelle is currently the Assistant Director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center. She has a strong passion for Justice Oriented and Interdependent leadership development and roots much of her work in disability justice frameworks. She has B.S. in Psychology at Suffolk University in Boston Ma and her M.S. in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Fun Fact: I love turtles and have a pet tortoise named Boris!

Kevin Vetiac

Director, LGBTQA Resource Center

Kevin has a background in equity work and serving multiply marginalized populations. Previous roles in higher education and in administration at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul have prepared them to lead visionary work in a fast-paced and far-reaching institution. Kevin centers and uplifts intersectionality in their approach to the Director’s role, as well as in their own lived experience as a Black, queer, nonbinary person who is the child of immigrants.

One of their first experiences of Northeastern was serving as a panelist for an event sponsored by the Wholeness Initiative (a collaboration by the CSFS, the CIE-SJRC, and the LGBTQA Resource Center). Kevin is passionate about supporting LGBTQIA+ young people, and committed to working to create more embracing and affirming experiences and spaces in which they can grow and thrive.

ERICK YANZON

Assistant Director, Social Justice Resource Center

Erick Yanzon is a first-generation queer immigrant from Caloocan City, Philippines. They recently moved from the traditional lands of the Coast Salish and Duwamish peoples in Seattle, Washington. Erick received their Master of Education in Student Development Administration at Seattle University and their Bachelor of Arts in American Cultural Studies and Sociology at Western Washington University.

Their passion as an educator stem from their experiences in student activism, community organizing, and coalition building. Erick has been involved in numerous regional and national Filipinx organizations, and has a lot of experience in large-scale programming, curriculum development, and facilitation.

In their free time, Erick enjoys binging TV shows, reading, and jamming to R&B and Pop music. Their top love language is physical touch (they are always down for a nice warm hug!) and cooking and sharing meals with others. Erick is a Scorpio sun and moon, and loves connecting with people over astrology. They are also an aspiring writer and storyteller.

A Special Thanks to Our Collaborators