CU Personality // Dora Frias
Mentoring college students has been Latin@ Student Services (LSS) Director Dora Frias’ passion since the start of her career.
Frias’ involvement in student services began in her undergraduate career at Texas A&M University. During her time there she started working in student mentoring and leadership programs. She credited one of her mentors in the program at Texas A&M for guiding her and helping her make a career of working in leadership roles and helping students. Frias’ interest in working in educational student services first sparked at Texas A&M, and she moved on to earn her Master’s in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Colorado State University.
“I view myself as a social justice and diversity inclusion practitioner,” Frias said. “I feel there is a lot of work to be done, both on our college campuses but also in our Latin@ community.”
When she started working in LSS two years ago, Frias began designing the program to be a support mechanism for the Latin@community at CU Denver. The reason for the spelling of Latin@ is a workaround of the Spanish language—the inclusion of the letter “a” and “o” suits both male and female students.
When viewing the LSS website, Latin@ students are able to join different organizations which cater to them as identifying Latin@ students. They can find emotional support as well as educational workshops.
One of the workshops Frias assisted in creating and hosting was one in support of Queer Latinx students after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. The topic included the explanation of what Latinx means, which—according to the Read Diverse Books blog post shared on Facebook by LSS—“includes transgender, genderqueer, agender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people.”
LSS is designed as a resource for Latin@ students to be able to confide in and seek out resources that are designed to better assist them during their time at CU Denver. Some of the students have fallen under the eyes of the new president due to their immigration status.
Aside from working with LSS, Frias is also the supervisor to the Undocumented Student Services (USS) Assistant. “We have a graduate assistant that works 20 hours a week to meet one-on-one with students and provide them with resources,” Frias said. “We’ve also got a scholarship that is mostly funded by faculty and staff donating from their paychecks.”
The CU Dreamer Scholarship assists undocumented students in need of financial help as well as those who cannot receive federal aid due to their legality status. On the LSS website, anyone is able to donate money to the scholarship.
CU Denver has students who are attending the campus under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), ASSET, and as DREAMERS. DACA is a program established in 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security. This program grants deferred action from removal to individuals who were brought to the US as children. This act allows them to stay in the US.
Frias has cultivated the LSS to be as open and accepting as possible, and any students, Latin@ or otherwise, are welcome in the office with open arms.