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October 29, 2014

New Head of Intercultural Center Hopes to Foster ‘Meaningful Conversations’

Jessica Guzmán-Rea
Jessica Guzmán-Rea

As newly appointed director of the University’s Intercultural Center, Jessica Guzmán-Rea is eager to create and promote collaborative programs that welcome students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds.

“I am really excited to be back home at the University of Rochester,” she says. “I look forward to expanding the Intercultural Center and having constructive dialogues around the intersections of diversity and identity.”

Guzmán-Rea first joined the University’s Office of Minority Student Affairs in 2006, where she served as an academic program coordinator and counselor, and assisted in recruiting for the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program. Most recently, she was as an academic advisor in the Honors College at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she also served as an adjunct faculty member in the department of social work.

Guzmán-Rea reports to both Beth Olivares, dean for diversity initiatives, and Matthew Burns, dean of students.

An important function of the Intercultural Center, Guzmán-Rea says, is to provide opportunities for cooperation among members of the University community and to advance awareness about international human-rights issues, both in theory and in practice with academic, activist, and artistic initiatives.

“Questions about how we identify ourselves and others, what communities and groups we do or do not belong to and why, and how these identities and identifications shift over time and in different circumstances” carry implications that reach far beyond the bounds of a college campus, Olivares says.

One of her earliest goals as the center’s new director, Guzmán- Rea says, “is for it to become a resource where faculty can supplement their course curriculum and where students can have meaningful conversations with their peers, professors, and staff members.”

Guzmán-Rea received a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University, and a master’s in social work from Columbia University. She earned her doctorate at the University’s Warner School of Education and Human Development in 2010.

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