On February 1, Western Michigan student Natalia Carvalho-Pinto started in the new position of Director of Intercultural Student Life. Carvalho-Pinto is finishing up her Masters Degree in Social-Cultural studies with an education focus.
Born and raised in Brazil, Carvalho-Pinto became interested in social movements and systems of oppression in the U.S. while in college. “Growing up in Brazil you have this image of the U.S. that was the image you see on movies, that it’s all these white fancy houses and when I came here and I started working and I started being in some of these neighborhoods and going to different schools,” Carvalho-Pinto said.
She discovered that, while working for recruiting for Ferris State University, the school she attended for her undergraduate degree, some students were sitting on floors at some schools in Michigan, while students at other schools were not. “I started being really fascinated with these social-economic dynamics and these racial dynamics,” Carvalho-Pinto said.
“I was like okay, why is it that all the Latino and black schools are the ones that have no chairs and all the white schools are the ones that are huge and fancy,” Carvalho-Pinto said. “I became really interested in that, too, and I started reading and studying, so it was a natural move to go into a Masters degree that focused on how these dynamics impact education and education systems in the country.”
Carvalho-Pinto’s job role is still being developed, as it is a new position. “This person is serving the students who feel marginalized on campus and trying to bridge their needs with the resources that are here and available to them and create opportunities for students to become more included on campus,” Carvalho-Pinto said. Part of her role will be determining the purpose of the new Intercultural Center and offering support to students who need it.
Carvalho-Pinto said she enjoys working with students and has always been student-centered. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know more students at K and working with students and seeing where it’s needed,” Carvalho-Pinto said.
Carvalho-Pintohas has already held a meet and greet to have conversations with students and meet students that are interested in being involved with intercultural work. She is holding another on Wednesday, February 24 from 5-8 p.m. It is an open house and students can come and go as their schedule allows.