Dr. Guillermina Hernandez Archives - Community | Union Institute & University

Embracing Diversity Through Art

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Q. Why do you think it is important to highlight Hispanic Heritage Month?

 A. It is important to celebrate in order to keep our culture and traditions. This celebration, however, is not for one day or a designated month only, but rather every day of the year. For Latinos/Hispanics Columbus Day is not our main celebration (the discovery of America) as native people were here in the Americas before Columbus’ arrival. We celebrate La Raza (the Race) to honor our ancestors.

Q. The 2016 show is La Raza: Embracing Diversity, a fine art exhibit showcasing the work of graduate students sharing their views, experiences and contribution to the Latino culture. Why did you choose this title?

A. La Raza is a culture of many ethnic groups within the Latino/Hispanic community. As a group with no specific race, we embrace all kinds of people regardless of our color.

Q. What is the purpose of the art show?

 A. The purpose of the art show is to bring together the different cultures within the Latino/Hispanic community. Even though we speak the same language, each experience is different. The show gives voices to students through a different platform such as the visual arts. Images resonate on people often more than verbal messages. There are also messages implied or suggested through the images, whether political, racial, or migration related.

Q. What else do you hope the exhibit teaches?

A. The show brings together people from all walks of life, via the artists and the community and serves as a forum to engage the college community as well as visitors. Since each of the participating artists are from different cultural backgrounds (Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia), viewers can learn about those differences and similarities and get broader perception of the Latino culture.

Q. How did the idea for an annual art exhibit materialize?

A. As mentor at an institution where Latinos are a minority, I introduced this annual event in 2011. However, the idea for this show came from current political and racial and divisionism taking place in our country. Therefore, I thought about a show that could integrate these topics and how each of the artists would interpret them to address their position or views on the matter.

Raul Manzano

Dr. Manzano earned his Ph.D. with a major in Humanities & Culture from Union Institute & University in 2015. His dissertation is titled, Language, Community, and Translations: An Analysis of Current Multilingual Exhibition Practices among Art Museums in New York City. He holds a Master of Arts from SUNY / Empire State College, New York, NY, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from School of Visual Arts, New York, NY. Dr. Manzano is busy preparing for the introduction of Caribbean Heritage Month celebration in June 2017 in collaboration with his colleague Dr. Rosalind October-Edun. For additional information visit www.raul-manzano.com

It’s Never Too Late

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It’s Never Too Late

At the age of 73, Dr. Jenny C. Laster, continues to fight against being the “first and only”

Jenny C. Laster will receive her Ph.D. at the age of 73 at Union’s National Commencement on October 8.

“I love it when my 13-year old grandson calls me Dr. Grandma, it means I have sent him a message that says not only dream big but live those dreams. Thank you Union Institute & University for helping dreams become reality,” said Dr. Laster.

Not only is Dr. Laster a role model, but she has much left to do.

“I want to be a published writer with a focus on issues and solutions that impact my communities, one is my community of females and the other is the African American community.”

Dr. Laster’s dissertation is titled, An Autoethnography on a Nontraditional Career. Her Ph. D. work also included being a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. That required core and advanced seminars on Dr. King’s leadership and legacy, encompassing intellectual, spiritual, moral, political, psychological, and policy dimensions.

Dr. Laster chose to attend Union at the urging of the late Dr. Toni Gregory, Union Institute & University Associate Dean.

“Dr. Gregory and her husband, Dr. Everett Gregory along with my family were my cheerleaders. From my first day to the last at Union I was encouraged by the Union family beginning with the president, Dr. Roger Sublett, whose commitment filters throughout the organization. I am a MLK Scholar because of the caring and scholastic abilities of Dr. Virgil Wood and Dr. Nancy Boxill. I mention these people because the secret to Union is that level of caring with is part of the university’s DNA.”

Dr. Laster’s many accomplishments over her career include:

-Recipient of Fifth Third Bank 2012 Person of Courage

-Honored by the Boy Scouts of America for her leadership in recruiting volunteers to serve in a variety of roles for the Cincinnati Hopkins District

-National Underground Railroad Freedom Center part of the “Dada Rafiki” tribute to women over 65 who have left their footprint on Cincinnati

-Grassroots Leadership Academy former president and CEO addressing the leadership skill development needs of more than 500 community leaders, activists, and organizers

-Cincinnati Urban League Director of Leadership Development

-Co-producer of the video entitled “Glorifying The Lions,” an oral history celebrating the accomplishments of senior African American leaders in Cincinnati. This 1992 documentary was later adapted by the Cincinnati PBS affiliate, and is one of their featured programs during Black History Month. This recognition of senior African Americans in Cincinnati eventually led to what is now the Urban League’s annual “Glorifying the Lions” awards program and luncheon, celebrating Cincinnati’s senior African American leadership and is presented each February as part of its annual meeting luncheon

-Executive Director for Cincinnati Works, an organization designed to move low-income individuals into self-sufficiency through full-time employment

-First woman to hold the position of Vice President for ATE Management & Service Company in Cincinnati, Ohio

-First woman to serve as Director of Human Resources for the American Public Transportation Association in Washington, DC and the first woman to serve as Director of Training for the Bi-State Development Agency in St. Louis, MO

-A two year appointment as the United States Lay Representative to the British Methodist Church, requiring her to travel to the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007. During her trip in 2006 to Scotland, she was commissioned by the President of the British Methodist Church to preach in Scalloway, The Shetland Islands. She also served on the West Ohio Conference Re-districting Team and has held a variety of offices in the United Methodist Church and is a member of Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR)

-Graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class 8 and served for several years on the Leadership Cincinnati Alumni Board

-Served on many boards including Black Career Women, Inc., Citizens for Civic Renewal, the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Children’s Advisory Board, Leading Women, and the University Hospital Community Advisory Council

A Journey of Healing and Hope

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A Journey of Healing and Hope

How a Partnership between a Marine Veteran and Union Institute & University proved to be more than Academic.

United States Marine Corps veteran Mitch Rivas enrolled at Union Institute & University under unusual circumstances – the illness of one of his 1-year-old twin daughters, Maryssa, in 2014.

Rivas and his wife were at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center because of Maryssa’s rare heart condition, when in walked Dr. Nelson Soto, Union Institute & University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and his wife Ana.

“Our church House of Praise International in Lorain, Ohio posted our story among the congregation and it reached a friend of a friend in Cincinnati. After a four-hour ambulance ride, Nelson was the first person to welcome me to Cincinnati. Nelson and Ana opened their home to us and our four children. Not only were we able to stay with them, but we found that we shared a strong faith in God,” said Rivas. “As our friendship blossomed, we began to share our life stories with each other. I explained that I had attended a community college after being discharged from the United States Marine Corps, but didn’t like college and really didn’t see the need for a college degree. I told him I had a good job with the United States Postal Service and didn’t see how a degree would benefit me.”

Dr. Soto quickly pointed out that a college degree would advance Rivas’s career in the postal service.

“I told Mitch he was the ideal Union student. Veterans, by the very nature of their training, have acquired leadership and organizational skills, and also discipline,” said Dr. Soto. “A college degree is the most outward-facing seal of quality that an individual can demonstrate. A college degree is recognized throughout the world. I knew that Mitch would be successful, but also, our flexible model would allow time to deal with the issues he was facing with his young daughter.”

“Nelson encouraged me to give college another shot – this time at Union Institute & University,” said Rivas. “And this time, it worked. Folks in every office and department helped me succeed, holding my hand throughout the enrollment process. Union’s Registrar Lew Rita Moore worked personally with me to expand my VA benefits. She and her staff orchestrated the process of getting my previous college credits transferred from the community college I attended in 2004-2005, along with the credits I earned with The Marine Corps Institute while I was on active duty.”

Fast forward to September 2016 and Rivas not only completed his Bachelor’s in Leadership in 2015, but will graduate with his Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) at Union’s national commencement on October 8.

During this time, Maryssa’s health struggle continued. On the United States Marine Corps birthday, November 10, 2015, Maryssa underwent a complete heart rebuild. Her new heart was too strong for her lungs and she passed away three days later.

When this tragedy struck, Rivas was in the second term of the (MSOL).

“I wrestled for weeks about quitting the MSOL program because my goals were now irrelevant. In this time of reflection, I remembered the driving force and verse of Maryssa’s Journey; Romans 8:28 Where the Lord promises to use ALL things together for good. (The good, the bad, the ugly, and the heart breaking),” said Rivas. “I continued and pressed on through the next two modules. All of my future assignments turned away from focusing on my career at the USPS and took on a new focus of the transition from Maryssa’s Journey to Maryssa’s Mission Foundation (MMF). We always felt that Maryssa would accompany us around the world boasting what a miracle her heart surgeries were, when we lost her we felt cheated until I checked our email messages. We had received messages from Cambodia, the UK, India, and many other countries. It was then, that I understood, Maryssa’s testimony had already made it around the world.”

Rivas used his MSOL leadership approaches, theories, principles and capstone project to form and design the strategic plan for the nonprofit Maryssa’s Mission Foundation to serve the families of medically fragile children.

Since its inception, it has provided love, meals, and temporary aid to over 150 families. Their motto is “To be the blessing we prayed to receive.”

So, what’s next for the Rivas family?

“With the partnership of our children’s hospitals, various Ronald McDonald Homes, and our private and corporate donors we are able to carry out the promise our foundation sets to accomplish. We aspire to change and positively impact the lives of families facing the challenges of caring for a medically fragile child,” said Rivas. “To celebrate the completion of the MSOL program on Saturday, October 8 we are taking the festivities back to where this journey started. On October 7th we will be blessing the Cardiac ICU and A-6-Central unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, both units that cared for Maryssa. We will be bringing goodies for the staff and goody bags for the families that are calling the hospital their temporary home. We will finish the evening at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) where we are preparing dinner for the families. It will be a night of food, fellowship, and crafts for the families. Our long term goal at the MMF will be to assist and provide housing to families who are on the RMH waiting list so that they can be near their child when it matters most.”

Maryssa’s Mission Foundation

The MMF looks forward to increasing their presence in both Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2017. Our relationship with many Ohio school districts allows us to teach children social responsibility at a young age. Children help collect items for the goody bags we deliver through their school district collection bins. We continue to seek interested individuals and corporate sponsorships to help us to continue to provide hope and temporary aid to the families of medically fragile children. To learn more information about Maryssa’s Mission Foundation, visit www.maryssasmission.org
Just as Rivas demonstrates in his story, the mission behind Union drives students to succeed in many ways and give back to their communities. Learn more about Union’s mission and values.

Karen Gives Back

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Karen Gives Back

In recognition of National Hispanic Month, Union is highlighting employee Karen Jones and her volunteer work with children.

Karen Jones loves the hugs she gets as a volunteer in her parish’s Children’s Church.

“The Children’s Church conveys the gospel and combines it with hands on crafts and games for the young children of our Hispanic parents,” said Jones, the controller at Union Institute & University.

“Our church doesn’t have a cry room, so this allows parents to worship in a quiet and calm atmosphere.”

Jones is glad to give back to the parish she grew up in.

“I was taught to give back to my community. Holy Family Church gave me a wonderful sense of my Catholic faith,” said Jones. “I am glad to offer my services so that adults have a peaceful time to worship.”

The Hispanic community at the church has grown over the last 10 years. To accommodate the families who speak Spanish, the 11 AM Mass is celebrated bilingually in English and Spanish.

Karen is an example of Union’s commitment to give back to our communities. Learn more about Union’s mission and values.

About Karen

Jones is the controller of Union Institute & University. She is a 27-year employee of the university and is responsible for the management of all accounting functions; including, accounts receivable, accounts payable, purchasing, collections, cash management, financial statement preparation and annual compliance reporting. Karen oversees six staff members and is proud to report Union Institute & University is the proud owner of an annual unmodified audit opinion issued by the external audit firm, BKD, LLP. She holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati.

In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Union highlights Dr. Guillermina Hernandez

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The Passion Behind Teaching

Dr. Guillermina Hernandez

The Passion Behind Teaching

Dr. Guillermina Hernandez is an energetic, dedicated, and performance driven Union Institute & University early childhood expert who knew she wanted to be a teacher by the age of seven.

“I was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States at age three. I am the oldest of nine siblings and 52 cousins,” said Dr. Hernandez. “I tutored and helped my younger siblings with homework and lessons. I knew from a very early age that teaching was my calling.”

Today Dr. Hernandez continues to share her passion for teaching with adult students who previously worked in low income jobs, even the fields, to a Union bachelor’s pathway in Child & Adolescent Development (CHAD).

“The CHAD career transition offers an endless trajectory career pathway,” said Dr. Hernandez, Site Coordinator, Union Institute & University Child & Adolescent Development (CHAD) program and Program Coordinator of the University of California, Riverside Extension. “It is so rewarding to help non-traditional, first generation students with resources that support in the education process.”

Dr. Hernandez also cherishes the opportunity to teach and advise. “I have the best of both worlds. Being able to teach and advise is so fulfilling. My students and I form a tight knit community. We trust each other.”

Her path in education began with her Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Studies from California State University Fullerton. She received her Master’s in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College, Pasadena, California and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Management from Alliant International University, San Diego.

Dr. Hernandez holds a certification and/or membership in the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), Professional Growth Advisor for the California Childcare Consortium, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Child Development Director Permit, Environmental Rating Scales (ERS) Trainer, Reliable Program Administration Scale (PAS and Business Administration Scale (BAS).

She is also a Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Trainer of Trainers, a CPR and First Aid Certified Trainer, and a Child Development Advisory Panel Member for the California Commission on Teacher Credentials.

Dr. Hernandez is a former volunteer with the Norwalk Sheriffs Youth Activity League.

Learn more about the Child & Adolescent Development (CHAD) major in California that offers a rewarding career working with children at this link or call  800-861-6400.