St. Augustine College welcomes new board members from a diverse array of backgrounds, strengthening the visionary institution’s mission to build bridges to success and empower the Hispanic community through higher education.
CHICAGO, April 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — When St. Augustine College was founded in 1980, it broke barriers by being the first in the nation to offer bilingual higher education programs in the heart of the Chicago communities it served. It was visionary and life-changing, empowering its primarily Hispanic student population to overcome personal and financial obstacles to achieve lifelong dreams.
More than four decades later, St. Augustine President Dr. Reyes González, and a newly reinvigorated Board of Trustees are taking that mission one step further.
“We see ourselves as a university of inclusivity, one that welcomes people from all walks of life. Having a diverse board from a diverse range of backgrounds is a part of that. However, we are also a college that was built to serve the educational needs of the Hispanic community, and that puts us in a unique position in the world,” explains Dr. González, who took the helm of the independent college in 2018. “We know the challenges our community faces not just in Chicago but around the country, and we want to be part of the solution. That’s the university we are trying to create. We want to be the architects of our own destiny.”
That message of hope and inspiration is echoed by the newest members of St. Augustine’s Board of Trustees: Beatriz Martorello, Attorney at Law, Martorello Schildhaus LLC; Dr. Ricardo Mendoza, a board-certified pediatric dentist, Chicago Smile Specialist; José R. Sánchez, President and CEO, Norwegian American Hospital; and Carlos Velázquez Meixueiro, Global Head Learning Experience Platform, Caterpillar Inc. They join Board President Karleen Mussman, who has most recently served as Chief Human Resources Officer at ZOOM+Care; Elizabeth Alvarado, Director, AGB Consulting; and the Reverend Clayton L. Thomason, J.D., M.Div., Director of the Healthcare Ethics program at Rush University Medical Center.
The first in her Italian-Argentinian family to go to college, Martorello knows how important it is to have an institution that not only educates, but empowers.
“It took a lot of courage to work and study as a child, because there was no way that my parents would support me in my studies. By believing in a better future and doing my best, I created a full and happy life,” says Martorello, whose minority, woman-owned law firm has offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Buenos Aires, Argentina. “I was able to change the destiny that had been fixed for me thanks to study, and therefore I am very interested in helping the Latino community of St. Augustine prepare to be excellent professionals, and not to be overcome by obstacles that are sometimes very daunting and to pursue their dreams—because yes, they can!”
Dr. Mendoza also understands the power of a college degree and how it can exponentially transform not only the lives of students, but entire families.
“My goal as a board member is to help facilitate connections in our community, support the aspirations of its members and the possibilities higher education can provide,” says Dr. Mendoza, who runs a dentistry practice in Logan Square and serves as President of the Hispanic Dental Association. “I also believe that community outreach is very much needed within the Hispanic community and I’m willing to help shorten those bridges.”
A native of Mexico City, Velázquez Meixueiro says supporting higher education in the Latino community has never been more important.
“When I finished my second master’s degree in Transformational Leadership and Coaching, I found myself at a different level,” explains Velázquez Meixueiro, who leads a global training team at Caterpillar. “I was able to better understand myself because I applied those theories to my life. It helps me to understand and honor my emotions, but most importantly, connect with others with purpose and intention.”
Dr. González says that it’s this high caliber of board leadership that will help solidify St. Augustine’s reputation and impact on a national level.
“Our vision as an institution is to transform Latinos’ lives through knowledge, but our vision of the world is a world where every Hispanic is empowered to achieve their goals and precious dreams,” he says, emphasizing that in a country with a population of 60 million Latinos, St. Augustine continues to be the only institution of its kind whose mission is the success of all 60 million Latinos. “We transform the lives of families through education; by transforming the lives of families, we are transforming our society. And if we can transform our society and nation, we make the world a better place.”