Our Latin American and Hispanic Heritage month Alumni Spotlight is Dr. Alex Torres. In 2020, she obtained her PhD in English with a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies at Louisiana State University. She has engaged in community advocacy for immigrant youth in the Baton Rouge area since 2015. In her role as Assistant Director of Latinx Affairs, her work centers on the coordination, implementation, and assessment of programs and workshops that serve students of Latinx descent and celebrate their heritage/culture. Dr. Torres provides support, advocacy, and leadership development to amplify opportunities for Latinx students. She advises student organizations such as Latin American Student Organization, assists with the management of the Latinx Cultural Center, and actively collaborates with the Latinx Faculty & Staff Caucus. Learn more about Alex Torres below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Alex – I was born in Mexico City but grew up in Mississippi. I came to Baton Rouge in 2014 to pursue my doctorate in English at LSU and decided to stay. Baton Rouge holds a special place in my heart. I am currently the inaugural Assistant Director for Latinx Affairs at LSU. This position entails designing and implementing culturally responsive events and programming that affirms students who identify as Latin American, Latinx, or Hispanic. I provide students with campus resources and collaborate with other entities around campus to promote more inclusive policies and practices. In my previous professional lives, I've helped run Humanities Amped, a local non-profit that seeks to humanize public education through culturally responsive and healing-centered practices. And I've been an ESL teacher and researcher when I was completing my doctorate.
What path did your career take after graduating from LSU?
Alex – After graduating from LSU in August 2020, I was helping run Humanities Amped. It’s a non-profit that works with public high schools to share culturally responsive and healing-centered practices that focus on the well-being of teachers and students. I had done my doctoral research as an intern with Humanities Amped. I wrote my dissertation on Spanish-speaking immigrant English Learners and how Humanities Amped practices helped them graduate. When I graduated was hired on as part of the Humanities Amped leadership team. I worked there full-time from 2020-2021 as an administrator, instructional coach, and leading the afterschool program. Over the summer, I was given the opportunity to apply for my current position at LSU, and I am thrilled to be in the inaugural position of Assistant Director for Latinx Affairs. Because I have a background in working with underrepresented students and providing them with meaningful programming and resources, I am happy to be able to serve in this capacity at LSU.
What made you decide to pursue this career path?
Alex – I have always had a heart for service, particularly in youth development work. As a high school and college student, I volunteered at a summer camp for foster and historically underrepresented children. That passion led to me interning as a teacher and my non-profit work. In my current job, I get to do my favorite parts of youth / young adult development work. I get to talk to students who also identify as Latinx/Hispanic, get to know them, and connect them to the right resources. I also get to plan programming and events that help students connect to one another. I partner with other entities across campus to help underrepresented students feel seen and included. Administrative work isn’t often glamorous but when done in the service of others, it can feel deeply meaningful.
Do you have a mentor that helped you along the way?
Alex – I have two huge mentors, who I consider my close collaborators and personal friends. They have helped me grow professionally and as a human being. Destiny Cooper and Anna West were the Humanities Amped co-founders. I came along the second year of the project, and I learned so much with them. Anna was a few years ahead on her dissertation work, so she really helped guide me as I did my own research. Everything I know about good facilitation work, I have learned from Destiny. But really we all learned along with one another about culturally responsive and healing-centered teaching practices. We also learned about co-teaching, collaborative leadership, and building a non-profit from scratch. Because of these lessons and their support, I feel so prepared to face most professional challenges.
What is your favorite spot on campus? Favorite place to eat near campus?
Alex – I love all these oak trees in general, so I have to say that the “Enchanted Forest” that wooded area near the Greek Theater stage is gorgeous. I appreciate Highland Coffee as a place to write and meet up with friends.
If you could give one piece of advice to entering freshmen what would it be?
Alex – I would tell them to enjoy the experience and to be self-compassionate. Finding a balance between their school work and social life and learning how to take care of themselves takes time. So they should not feel pressured to be the perfect student, but instead really learn about themselves during this time too.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Alex - Listening to students is my favorite part. I like to listen to what they are going through and then connect them with the right people or resources.
What do you miss most about being a student at LSU?
Alex - I miss the UREC. The leisure river was always a nice place to decompress.
Why are you proud to be an LSU alum?
Alex - The LSU community is so expansive and there are always opportunities for LSU to share its resources with the outside community as well.
To learn more about Alex Torres and her work, click here.
Latin American & Hispanic Heritage Month (Celebrated Sept. 15 - Oct. 15)
Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors come from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18, respectively. From the Office of Multicultural Affairs at LSU.