KOKOMO, Ind. – Making connections has been key to Paola Cubides’s success at Indiana University Kokomo.
Now, in the final year of her Master of Business Administration program, she’s excited to be a connector for students like herself — those arriving alone from overseas, or minority students, as the first graduate assistant in the Multicultural Center.
“I can serve as a bridge between students and the services that are available to help them succeed,” she said. “I know what the campus offers, and what organizations are available that I can point them to. This is a good starting point for me to apply and level up the skills I’ve been building in the classroom, and by being involved in campus clubs, and use them to help others who are in the place I was.”
Cubides hopes to use this platform to help other students like herself find their place to belong, so they can thrive while earning their degrees.
“The Multicultural Center gives you the opportunity to feel like you are not alone,” she said. “Because I am an international student, I understand their experience, and I’ve lived it. I know the feeling when you first come here, and you don’t know anybody. A lot of times you think you’re going to be the only Colombian, or the only international student, or the only minority student, and that is not the case. Students from different backgrounds can come here, make connections, and have activities specific to their needs.”
Tess Barker, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, said Cubides is the ideal person to serve as the Center’s inaugural graduate assistant.
“Her own intercultural experiences as an international student inform her work with the MCC and our students,” she said. “Her first-hand experience adapting to a new culture and environment help ensure we keep an open mind to the experiences of students who are adapting to IU Kokomo.”
As the Center’s graduate assistant, Cubides will support its programming and events, such as the Social Justice Speaker Series, using her event management and advertising skills to be sure all are well organized and implemented.
She also will help implement the Equity Ambassador program, serving as a mentor and advisor as students develop outreach activities to promote social justice and diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to their peers.
Cubides said the Center includes the Black Student Center, LGBTQ Center, Office of Campus Diversity, Latinos Unidos: Hispanic Center, International Student Services, and the Accessibility Center, which serve all students. It also has a counselor who can work with students from diverse backgrounds, including students of color and international students.
“It is an umbrella that combines all of these groups and gives these students who may not feel connected a place to belong,” she said. “It gives them an opportunity to socialize and get to know other students, faculty, and staff who have faced the same issues, or have the same beliefs.”
Cubides plans to complete her graduate degree in May, with a focus in human resources. She then plans to begin her career in north central Indiana. She first came to the area as an exchange student, and lives with her host family in Wabash.
“I really like this area,” she said. “I have found people to be very friendly and family-oriented, and I feel at home.”
IU Kokomo’s Multicultural Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Kelley Student Center, Room 265.