The Ibero-American Action League recognized Assistant Dean of Students for Multicultural Programs and Services Fatima Rodriguez Johnson on Oct. 6 with the Alicia Torres award for embracing diversity. The IAAL is an organization that provides services for people—especially of Latin descent—in the Rochester area, according to Rodriguez Johnson.
“Ibero is really involved in a lot of bilingual services for the Latino community,” she said. “[It has] broadened out their work to include people from a variety of different backgrounds—things like day-care, education and working with people in the community around different things related to career development.”
Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio pointed to the significance of the IAAL.
“Rochester has the second largest Latino population of any city in the state, so this organization is quite well known,” he said. “At their annual luncheons, they have a number of awards and speakers. I was impressed by the number of local political figures and influential people on the state level that were there.”
Rodriguez Johnson was nominated for the honor in a letter from Bonfiglio and Vice President for Enrollment Management Meaghan Arena. Johnson’s qualifications for the award are exemplified through her involvement in the Multicultural Fellows Program and the Real World Geneseo project, according to Bonfiglio and Arena’s letter.
The MFP is a system that provides services and recognition to multicultural students who meet a certain set of criteria.
“The fellowship program supports the students financially every semester for four years, and they also are assigned a mentor,” Rodriguez Johnson said. “For the first few years I mentored all the students until we got up to full capacity, but now we have about 38 fellows so I have other colleagues that volunteer to mentor one or two students … They also support many of our diversity activities and bring different perspectives to the activities they’re involved in.”
The RWG project is a high-impact educational program aimed to increase cultural awareness and competency, according to Rodriguez Johnson. It begins with a four-day off-campus retreat in January, continues with a weekly seminar throughout the spring semester and culminates into a service project that students create and execute.
“There was a call from students on campus for students to really be open and honest about their worldview, attitudes and perceptions for people who are different from themselves,” she said.
Rodriguez Johnson received her award at the IAAL’s 48th annual luncheon.
“It was a very special day,” she said. “They honored a number of people in the community. When they described Ms. Torres more fully at the luncheon, it was even more special for me to be recognized in that way.”
Bonfiglio nominated Rodriguez Johnson for this award because of her work ethic and service to Geneseo students, he said.
“She’s been a wonderful support person to many students on campus, but especially to our Latino students,” he said. “She works tirelessly, she brings good humor and an upbeat personality to her work every day. When I read the description of the award, it just seemed like it’d be a great fit for her.”