Meet the Staff

Carina Olaru

Carina Olaru

Director, Latino Cultural Center & Director, Student Advocacy and Education

colaru@purdue.edu

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 talkative daughter.
See Carina's CV here.

Juan Robles

Juan Robles

Assistant Director

robles11@purdue.edu
Juan Robles (He/Him/His) joined Purdue University as the Program Coordinator of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in July 2017, and is currently the Assistant Director. 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

Crystal Muñoz

Administrative Assistant

Crystal Muñoz (she/her/hers), 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. 

 

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Esteban Soto

Graduate Assistant

Esteban Soto (He/Him/His) is a Ph.D. candidate in Technology and a Fulbright scholar. He joined the LCC as a graduate assistant in January of 2022. Esteban is from Chile and grew up in Puerto Montt, a small city in the south of Chile. His current research focuses on renewable energy systems and solar energy. He believes that research will help smooth the transition towards the massive use of clean energy. This transition will be impactful by creating a more sustainable and environmentally conscious society.
On campus, Esteban is the president of the Purdue Fulbright Association, where he focuses on providing support and guidance to new Fulbrighters. He knows that it is always a challenge for an international student to arrive in a new country. That is why he has focused on helping new students by sharing his personal and academic experience so that they can better adapt and increase their chances of success at graduate school. He also works as project coordinator in the Research Experiences for Undergraduate program in applied energy, targeting underrepresented engineering students.
Before coming to Purdue, Esteban did his Bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering and a Master's degree in industrial management at the University of Concepcion, Chile. He worked in the Chilean Ministry of Energy in his home country, where he executed energy policies, created new projects with the public and private sectors to implement energy efficiency improvements, and worked close to the local communities. He also initiated his startup in Chile, which created a device to reduce particulate matter emissions from wooden stoves, the primary residential heating source in Chile's south-central zone.
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Jennifer Escobedo

Graduate Assistant

Jennifer Escobedo (She/Her/Hers), is a current graduate student working on her Master in Public Health. Jennifer grew up in Lafayette, IN and attended Purdue University for her undergrad. After graduating from Purdue, she worked in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for two years. In 2019, Jennifer went to graduate school to pursue her Master in Healthcare Administration. Her goal is to open a non-profit organization dedicated to helping fight health and education disparities among underserved communities especially Latinx women and children. During her studies she began working as a Title I Aide at her old elementary school. In this role she was responsible for helping students with their math and reading skills as well as providing bilingual services for the families. Jennifer joined the Purdue Latino Cultural Center  in January of 2022, as a Graduate Assistant and is using her educational background to help co-lead Avanzando Through College. She is also a graduate research assistant working with Dr. Ruiz and Dr. Taylor’s Purdue Puentes Project. The project is dedicated to learning about the health and well-being of Latinx youth in farm worker/agricultural worker families.
Jennifer enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She goes hiking, to the Indy Zoo and museums with her siblings as often as she can. When with her friends they enjoy board game and movie nights to reset after a long week of studying. 
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Silvana Cuervo

Undergraduate Student Employee

Silvana Cuervo (she/her/hers) is a freshman and joined the LCC as an undergraduate assistant in September of 2021. She is studying engineering and intends to pursue industrial engineering. Silvana grew up in South Carolina, and her family is from Colombia. On campus, Silvana is a part of the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation (PSEF), where she helps promote engineering to prospective students, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). In high school, she was very involved with the speech and debate team. Silvana loves spending time outside playing volleyball, hiking, and gardening.
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Elizabeth Reyes

Undergraduate Student Employee

 

Elizabeth Reyes (she/her/hers) joined the Latino Cultural Center in September 2021. She is a sophomore studying Kinesiology at Purdue.  She plans to attend graduate school to become a Physician Assistant. Elizabeth was a Boiler Gold Rush Team Lead in 2021 and is also involved in the Health and Kinesiology Undergraduate Club. 
Elizabeth is from Northwest Indiana and has been a Purdue fan her whole life. Apart from studying to get her undergraduate degree, Elizabeth loves to run, do DIY projects, and spend time with her family and friends.