Meet the Staff

Carina Olaru


Carina Olaru joined Purdue University as the Director of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in 2016. Prior to joining the LCC, Carina Olaru was an assistant professor in the Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures department at Monmouth College where she taught Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Literature. At Monmouth, she organized Latino College Day, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals workshops and served on the Quality Initiative Committee that focused on the retention and college experience of first-generation college students. Carina was also instrumental in cultural programming that created opportunities for meaningful dialogue and understanding. She also co-founded the community organization Latinos Unidos de Monmouth that organized temporary visitor’s driver’s license workshops and organized a 5k which raised funds to provide scholarships to local Latino high school students. She also increased the number of students studying abroad as the campus representative for the International Student Exchange Program. Professor Olaru was recognized by her colleagues for her work when awarded the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service and by students who awarded her for Outstanding Career Mentor and recognized her in the annual Honor Walk for fourth-year students.

She received her bachelor's degree in English and Latin American and Latino studies with a minor in Spanish from DePaul University. She studied in Mérida, México, and, as a McNair Scholar, conducted graduate-level research in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She was the student representative of the Latin American and Latino studies program, McNair Scholar and a student employee of the Center for Latino Research where she interviewed writes like Helena María Viramontes and Junot Díaz. She received her master's in Hispanic literatures with a minor in gender and women’s studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During her graduate studies in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Olaru taught a variety of courses, worked as a research assistant, conducted research in Buenos Aires, Argentina afforded by the Tinker Field Research Grant and studied in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil as a recipient of the Foreign Language Area Studies fellowship.

As the director of the Latino Cultural Center, Carina will work to strengthen the ties between the Latino Cultural Center and the Greater Lafayette community, advocate for students, faculty and staff who are underrepresented in higher education, continue to maintain the LCC as a safe space for all students, and contribute to an atmosphere of understanding and inclusion.

In her spare time, Carina enjoys learning Romanian phrases from her partner, reading and baking and looks forward to getting back into weight training, PIYO and kickboxing.

Juan Robles

Program Coordinator

Juan Robles joined Purdue University as the Program Coordinator of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in July of 2017. Before coming on board as the Program Coordinator, Juan was an outreach coordinator for the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education at the University of Arkansas where he worked closely with first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students to support their academic success and promote diversity and inclusion. While at the University of Arkansas, Juan organized academic and social programs aimed at developing cultural competence and student development.

He earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Languages from Arkansas State University. While at Arkansas State University, he worked diligently to empower Latinx students by establishing networking opportunities, social programs, and academic forums for students, faculty, and staff. Juan also served the Northeast Arkansas community by being an AmeriCorps volunteer, where he volunteered over 900 hours to mentoring students, developing educational programs, providing translation services. He received his Master's in Education from the University of Arkansas where he focused on higher education and student affairs. While pursuing his Master's degree, Juan was an active member of The Higher Education Organization as well as the Chi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. He is an active member of the American College Personnel Association, the ACPA Latinx Network, and was recognized as the NASPA Rising Star for the state of Arkansas in 2016.

As the program coordinator, Juan is looking most forward to creating opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and the Greater Lafayette community to come together and celebrate the diverse, rich cultures and identities present on Purdue University's campus. He also looks forward to collaborating with campus and community partners with the purpose of creating programs that will foster a greater sense of community for students, both on and off campus.

In his free time, Juan enjoys traveling, going to festivals and concerts, doing Zumba, and running 10k's and marathon relays. He also looks forward to learning American Sign Language to better serve students who identify as deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Danielle Ferreira

Graduate Assistant

Danielle (Dani) Ferreira is from East Chicago, IN and started working at the LCC in 2012 as a student worker. She began her current position as Graduate Assistant in June of 2016. Dani graduated from Purdue in May 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading and minor in Spanish. She completed her student teaching experience in the Chicago Public School system working with first graders for 15th weeks.

Dani is working on her Masters of Science in Education degree majoring in Curriculum and Instruction. Her focus is Literacy and Language Education and she hopes to, one day, teach in her own bilingual classroom.

In her spare time, Dani enjoys spending time with her family and friends, riding her bike around campus, volunteering at local elementary schools, and listening to music.

Dallas Howard

Business Operations Specialist

Dallas joined the Latino Cultural Center as the Business Operations Specialist in November of 2016. Having graduated from Purdue in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing, Dallas is very excited to be back on campus surrounded by the culture, energy, and excitement that comes from being in a university environment. Dallas is passionate about meeting and speaking with new people, hearing their stories and learning as much as possible from those around him.

Dallas has lived in Lafayette for the past 8 years. He lives with his wife (his high school sweetheart) and two cats. In his spare time he enjoys baking, especially bagels and breads and spending time with his family and friends. He is also a fan of card and board games.

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