Meet the Staff

Carina Olaru

Director

colaru@purdue.edu

Carina Olaru (She/Her/Hers) joined Purdue University as the Director of the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) in 2016. Under her leadership, the Latinx student popluation 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 2019, due to Carina and her team's efforts, the LCC recorded its highest visitation since its opening in 2003. 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 planninig committee for the Indiana Latino Education Summit and presented at the Indiana Latino Higher Education Consortium. Olaru engages in teaching and learning opportunties and has provided trainings about Latindad and DACA support for faculty and staff. In 2019, Carina will present her work on Latinidad, student success and advocacy at the Hispanic Association for Colleges & Universities (HACU) national conference. 

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 and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals workshops, and she served on the Quality Initiative Committee that focused on the retention and college experience of first-generation college students. Carina also was instrumental in cultural programming that created opportunities for meaningful dialogue and understanding. She co-founded the community organization Latinos Unidos de Monmouth that organized temporary visitor’s driver’s license workshops, as well as a 5K that 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 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. 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, a McNair Scholar and a student employee of the Center for Latino Research where she interviewed writers 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, she 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.

Juan Robles

Program Coordinator

robles11@purdue.edu

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. 

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.

Dallas Howard

Business Operations Specialist

howard0@purdue.edu

Dallas (He/Him/His) joined the Latino Cultural Center as the Business Operations Specialist in November 2016. Having graduated from Purdue in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing, he is very excited to be back on campus surrounded by the culture, energy, and excitement that comes from being in a university environment. He 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 eight 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 games and board games.

Tiffany Montoya

Graduate Assistant

tmontoy@purdue.edu

Tiffany Montoya (She/Her/Hers) joined the LCC staff in July of 2018. She is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy department; she writes about social and political theory, ethics, and philosophy of race. She serves on the Liberal Arts Diversity Action Committee for Purdue's college of Liberal Arts, and was the Diversity and Inclusion G.A. for the Department of Philosophy.

At Purdue, she has been an organizer for many activist projects both on campus and in the community. She is always willing to assist in causes involving the rights of workers, immigrants, women, LGBTQ communities, and the "Movement for Black Lives".
Tiffany grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, she received two bachelor's degrees from the University of New Mexico - one in Philosophy and the other in Creative Writing. As a McNair Scholar, she did research in Existentialism and the philosophy of creativity.

She lives with her husband and two dogs. In her free time she enjoys a balance of loudness and quiet. For instance, sometimes she goes to rowdy punk concerts, she enjoys being in crowds of friends, walking in busy cities, and she is learning how to play the drums. But she also has a regular practice of meditation and yoga, and loves spending time in nature.

Anthony Becerril

Graduate Assistant

abecerri@purdue.edu

Anthony Becerril (He/Him/His) joined the Latino Cultural Center (LCC) as a Graduate Assistant in July of 2019. Commonly known as Tony, he is a Ph.D. candidate in the Materials Engineering Department (MSE) conducting research on cellulose nanocrystals and its usage as an additive in cementitious technologies. Although new to the state of Indiana and the LCC team, he is excited to have the opportunity to make a difference through efforts in cultural representation, inclusion, and awareness.

Before joining the LCC and arriving to Purdue University, Tony Becerril was a full-time Test Engineer for General Atomics in San Diego, California. Working for the System Test and Qualification team, he had a role in providing the Army with field-ready Unmanned Aircraft Systems through laboratory, ground, and flight testing. While most laboratory testing was completed in San Diego, he traveled across various states to complete the remaining testing alongside interdisciplinary teams from the Army, General Atomics, and partnering supplier company specialists.

Prior to becoming an engineer, Tony completed his Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering at the California State University of Long Beach (CSULB). During his years in his hometown university he developed great professionalism, leadership, and academic excellence. Professionally, he completed internships and research with the University of California, Berkeley, Fiat Chryslers Automobiles, and Honda Research and Development. As a leader, Tony has vast experience volunteering for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) through various roles from Chapter President to Regional Student Representative. He also volunteered with Great Minds in STEM, MAES (Latinos in Science and Engineering), and many other organizations. Lastly, Tony’s academic excellence flourished being a campus Promotor (peer mentor and educator) at CSULB under the HSI-STEM grant. He carries a unique perspective gained from industry and academia that he applies to his current studies. Tony hopes to do the same for the LCC and become impactful in empowering the Latinx community.

Although over 1700 miles away from home where close friends and family reside, Tony always is looking for a new experience to convivir and has made new familias at Purdue with the LCC and MSE department. When the chances present themselves, Tony loves to indulge in his passions of music, comedy, film, sports, and eating the great foods of the world.

Val Mijares

LCC Intern (They/Them/Theirs)

vmijares@purdue.edu

Undergraduate Student Employees

Salma Huerta (She/Her/Hers)
Social Media Specialist
shuerta@purdue.edu

Roxana Fraga (She/Her/Hers)
Special Projects
rfraga@purdue.edu

Lupe Ruiz (She/Her/Hers)
Special Projects
ruiz62@purdue.edu

Joseline Aguilar (She/Her/Hers)
Outreach Coordinator
aguila19@purdue.edu

Staff at the Day of the Dead Celebration Día de los muertos 2018
Program Coordinator and Director at the Indiana Latino Institute Juan Robles & Carina Olaru at the Indiana Latino Institute
Staff at the Latinx Graduation Ceremony Latinx Graduation Ceremony 2019
Staff at Day of the Dead 2017 Día de los muertos 2018
Staff with Flor de Toloache Staff & Students with Flor de Toloache