April 2022 Student Spotlight
In this month’s Student Spotlight we speak with MPA student, Giselle Guerrero. She tells us about her current position as a consultant for El Barrio Bikes, and her role as a Community Planning Fellow at Fund for the City of New York.
Tell us about your involvement and interest in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
I currently work with El Barrio Bikes as a Consultant and a Community Planning Fellow for Community Board 12 of Manhattan. Both of these positions have enabled me to look deeper into the scope of DEI on a community scale. I am a strong believer in DEI, it is present everywhere in our lives. Being a first generation American, it has definitely made me aware of the limited options which are available to Spanish speakers. When I think of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, I think of how we can make everyone feel comfortable in different spaces. For me it has been making sure programming is available in multiple languages. Being that I am bilingual, I am able to use my bilingual skills to engage others. I think of the different spaces, I am in and how can I make the spaces more inclusive. I feel this starts at home with family and friends. We should have conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion and what are we doing to bringing others to the table.
Your work with El Barrio Bikes was featured on NY1 Noticias – Congratulations! Can you talk a bit about that?
El Barrio is a group which promotes inclusivity and works to eliminate barriers for biking in East Harlem. My partners helped me with the concept and turned it into reality. I am elated to be part of the El Barrio Bikes steering committee. This is actually one of my favorite things to do. I run with Harlem Run and one of my fellow runner friends told me about this program which is a bike leader trainer course. At this course I learned to lead bike rides and it helped me to develop my skills as a leader. After the course was completed, I created bike rides to engage the community. Then I was asked to be a consultant for the program which is what I currently do. During Covid, we wanted people to remain active and I thought a virtual bike ride would be a perfect option. I am bilingual and one of my goals when I became a bike leader was to ensure rides were fully bilingual to engage the Spanish speaking community. The virtual art ride was a self-led bike ride which was done fully in Spanish and English. Biking to me is a wonderful way to discover your neighborhood. I created the ride because I wanted the residents of East Harlem to see the beauty which exists in their community.
What has your Marxe School experience been like thus far? Are there any professors you’ve found particularly engaging?
My experience has been quite amazing at the Marxe School, which is very surprising for me. When I was an undergraduate student in SUNY Oswego, it was a completely different experience. I graduated with a low GPA so there were many mixed feelings I had about being a graduate student. Being a part of this program has been amazing for me. It has helped me to reevaluate my relationship with academia. It has given me the confidence to enjoy my studies. I took a course with Professor Jarvis and Professor Aries titled Racial Dialogue; in this course we discussed race. I would say this was the first time in my life in which I felt comfortable discussing race. I learned the definition of privilege and how we can use our privilege to help others. After this course I regularly engaged in conversations which have to do with race. I really hope they make a part 2 to this course. I think there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable discussing race, but the conversation is needed to enable anyone to move forward. I took a course with Dr. Smith which was Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. In this course, we discussed different methods which could be applied in the workplace to increase diversity and equity. After these two courses, I realized, this is where my passion lies. I wanted to see a concentration in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion but it has not happened yet. But I believe I have been able to make my own concentration with the courses I have taken. Both Dr. Smith and Professor Jarvis have been amazing professors who have helped me to find my career path. There was one professor who has stood out to me and that is Professor Heiland, who would meet me at 8:00 a.m. in the morning to help me with statistics before work. The one thing, I would say about Baruch is that the faculty makes a difference. They are always inviting and very helpful.