Meet the Staff
Director, Latino Cultural Center & Director, Student Advocacy and Education
Carina Olaru (She/Her/Hers), a Chicago native and daughter of Mexican immigrants, joined Purdue University as the Director of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in 2016. Under her leadership, the Latinx student population continues to grow and thrive at Purdue University. In 2017, Carina was responsible for the expansion, renovation, and relocation of the LCC and her vision ensured that the new space was intentionally inclusive and representative of diverse Latinx communities. Her mentorship and support of students, faculty and staff has been the source of the revival of the Latinx Student Union (LSU), the Latinx Graduation Student Association (LGSO) and the Latino Faculty and Staff Association (LaFaSA). In 2020, due to Carina and her team's efforts, the LCC recorded its highest visitation since its opening in 2003 and averages approximately 1,200 visits per month. Olaru established a local and statewide presence for the Latino Cultural Center working closely with Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies, Indiana Latino Expo, Latino Center for Wellness and Education and the Indiana Latino Institute; and has been an integral part of the planning committee for the Indiana Latino Education Summit and presented at the Indiana Latino Higher Education Consortium. Olaru engages in teaching and learning opportunities and has provided training about Latindad and DACA support for faculty and staff. Carina was awarded Educator of the Year by the Indiana Latino Expo in 2019, is serving a two-year term on the Indiana Latino Institute's Latino (ILI) Legislative Committee, and was selected as part of the ILI Latino Leadership Circle in 2021. Olaru also serves as the Director of Student Advocacy and Education.
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. Professor Olaru was recognized by her colleagues for her work with students and the community when presented the Hatch Award for Distinguished Service and by students who honored her as Outstanding Career Mentor and in the annual Honor Walk for graduating students.
Carina received her bachelor's degree in English and Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Spanish from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. 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. In her spare time, she upcycles furniture, reads, gardens, and spends time her partner and their smart and talktative daughter.
See Carina's CV here.
Juan Robles (He/Him/His) joined Purdue University as the Program Coordinator of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in July 2017. Juan's efforts have been instrumental in reenergizing the Latinx student population at Purdue University. His creative and trend-setting marketing strategies have contributed to the rebranding of the LCC in this new era. Each year, Robles' Purdue Day of Giving campaigns have surpassed the previous year's amount raised. His holistic approach to student success led to the creation of the Sana Sana self-care series which provides tools for students to destress and destigmatizes mental health issues in Latinx communities. Juan works closely with the director to assess and collect data for the programs and services provided to faculty, staff and students each year. In 2019, Juan Robles received the Purdue University Bravo Award for Innovation and Creativity.
Before coming to the LCC, 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 there, 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 mentor students, developing educational programs and 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 and the ACPA Latinx Network, and was recognized as the NASPA Rising Star for the state of Arkansas in 2016.
Crystal Muñoz, a Lafayette native, joined Purdue University as the Administrative Assistant of The Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in January 2020. Crystal’s passion for taking care of people started at a young age. While enrolled in High School and working as a waitress, she acquired her State of Indiana Cosmetology License. In 2011, Crystal pursued her love for teaching and working with the public, and sought out to attain her Beauty Culture Instructure License at Christina & Company Education Center, while being employed at Christina & Company of West Lafayette. She met a lot of great people and made lifelong friends during her time there, but due to her family's busy lifestyle, she had to transition out of her cosmetology career to a more family-friendly school schedule. She secured a position at Glen Acres Elementary School, where she held the title of an (ELL) English Language Learner and Title 1 aide. Crystal loved volunteering for events and translating for the Latino community of Glen Acres. During her time at Glen Acres, she built strong relationships with students and staff that will last a lifetime.
Crystal loves volunteering for community fundraising efforts and donating to local charities. While employed at Christina & Company she volunteered her time in a cut-a-thon/bake sale for a fellow employee, who was battling cancer. In 2018, she also helped organize a Chili Super, Hitting Homers for Landyn (home run derby), and sold bracelets to raise funds for her son’s baseball teammate, Landyn Griffith, who was diagnosed with terminal High-Grade Spinal Glioma that had metastasized. Unfortunately, in April of 2018, the battle with cancer was too difficult for Landyn’s little body. Crystal also loves donating to the local Humane Society regularly, and one of the other local dog shelters in the area.
Crystal is married and has two amazing boys which she adores and spends the majority of her free time with. If she isn't watching movies with them, she’s a proud sports mom that cheers her boys on at baseball fields and tennis courts. Crystal is also a huge dog aficionado and owns two Labrador Retrievers, which she loves taking on nature walks around the Lafayette and West Lafayette trails. When Crystal and her family get a little free time from their busy extracurricular lifestyle, she takes pleasure in taking them to Disney World.
Oscar I. Ojeda (He/Him/His) joined the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) as a Graduate Assistant in August of 2020. Oscar is a MS student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics of the College of Engineering. Currently a member of the Grouper laboratory, Oscar's research is focused on human missions to Mars.
Oscar is originally from Bogotá, Colombia, and arrived to Purdue in 2019. In Colombia, he studied Mechanical Engineering at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, where he founded the Aerospace Research and Development Group. At Purdue, he has participated of student organizations such as the Colombian Student Association at Purdue, Purdue MARS, and Purdue Pilots. Before joining the LCC team, Oscar was the Graduate Assistant of the Colombia Purdue Partnership.
Apart from his MS, Oscar is training to get his private pilot licence, and enjoys things such as cooking and playing guitar. Oscar also likes to do STEM outreach activities, mostly in Spanish, and believes on the importance fo increasing access to knowledge in Latin America. He currently holds the position of Regional Coordinator for South America in the Space Generation Advisory Council.
Val Z. Schull (they/them/theirs) is a fifth year PhD candidate in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. As part of the Water Resources and Ecohydrological Engineering group, their research focuses on water resource management in a changing climate and using a Food-Energy-Water framework for decision and policy-making. They are also currently the Latino Cultural Center intern, volunteering in projects that involve food security for Latinx students at Purdue, including the LCC's community garden. During their free time, they enjoy lifting weights and learning about sustainability.