Sergio Madera-Garcia is Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through Community Building and Leadership Development
Sergio Madera-Garcia, a first-year graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program, wants to advance diversity, equity and inclusion by working to make sure everyone has a sense of community and belonging.
“Everybody’s definition of ‘community’ and ‘belonging’ is different,” Madera-Garcia said. “Whether it relates to an individual’s voice, authenticity, brilliancy or such, there should always be equitable opportunities and practices in place to provide space at the table.”
Madera-Garcia wants to help foster innovative initiatives that will impact the intellectual and cultural campus experience for all.
“I aim to continue curating a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can feel acknowledged and validated,” he said.
Madera-Garcia, a first-generation, gay Latinx male from Beulaville, North Carolina, currently serves as the Leadership Development Program coordinator in Student Leadership and Engagement. Through this graduate assistantship, he hopes to share his passion for community and leadership with more NC State students.
“In my assistantship, a huge focus of mine has been to introduce the leadership certificate program as a way to allow students to build on their leadership capacities and to uncover how the concept of leadership is multidimensional through a personal, professional and academic setting,” he said.
Madera-Garcia earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies with a double minor in Spanish and leadership studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. There, his involvement in campus organizations within the context of his intersecting social identities sparked his passion for higher education.
“It wasn’t until after I graduated, when I worked at UNCW in the diversity, equity and inclusion field at the Hispanic/Latinx center, Centro Hispano, that I was given more perspective on the institutional hierarchy and processes in higher education, and exposed to the lack of resources and access for underrepresented and marginalized groups,” Madera-Garcia said.
To Madera-Garcia, diversity, equity and inclusion in education are important because, for historically marginalized people, barriers extend beyond what the eye can see.
“To engage in difficult conversations with queer, trans, Black, Indigineous, people of color (QTBIPOC) folx around DEI topics, there is appreciation in seeking understanding, but also a level of value and difference when seeking to understand through self-research,” he said.
Madera-Garcia also has an active role as a noble member serving in his fraternity, Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc., on a national level. In addition, he oversees the southeast region of Chapter Directors, whose work involves providing direct support to undergraduate members and their affiliated chapters.
“I work closely with the Chapter Directors to provide support, advice and to develop strategies to promote the personal and collective growth of our membership, including marginalized and underrepresented communities,” he said. “Our values in leadership, service, culture, academics and the meaning of familia frame the meaning behind our work.”
Madera-Garcia wants to teach future educators and scholar-leaders that diversity, equity and inclusion will always be a work in progress.
“It requires patience, open-mindedness and intentionality,” he said. For others interested in learning more about DEI in education, Madera-Garcia recommends this Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Glossary. He also recommends #31DaysIBPOC, found here, where a story/narrative is shared daily by different educators.
Story by Jayla Moody