A cultural center is coming to the Community College of Aurora and it will be led by Dr. Susan Hua, an educator who has a passion for engaging with Students of Color and supporting the unique experiences of all students.
For Dr. Hua, her role as CCA’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a fitting culmination for her previous roles in higher education. When it comes to the cultural center, Hua would like to see it reflect the vast diversity found on CCA’s campus.
“I want it to be a celebration of students’ cultures and for it to be a center on education about different identities,” Dr. Hua said.
Given Dr. Hua’s experience working with underrepresented students in higher education, she is the perfect person to lead CCA’s new cultural center. As the College Readiness Program Manager for CCA’s Title V grant program, Dr. Hua implemented programs that help students focus on academic success, prepare them for careers, and develop their personal identity.
“My greatest motivator is my parents,” Dr. Hua said of her career in higher education. “I think if the world was different, they both would have pursued higher education.”
Dr. Hua identifies as ethnically Chinese but culturally Vietnamese. She said her family is Teochew, people who are native to the Chaoshan region of southern China. Hua’s parents are refugees of the Vietnam War and established themselves in Massachusetts, raising three children.
Dr. Hua’s journey in higher education started at New York University, where she became a Resident Assistant and realized she wanted to work with students. From there, she traveled to the West Coast to obtain her master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of San Francisco, where Dr. Hua said she had the opportunity to be in diverse classrooms and learn about the intersection of social justice and education. In the summer of 2015, Dr. Hua completed an internship at the University of California’s Asian Pacific American Student Development Center in Berkeley, where she furthered her experience and developed her passion for identity-based student development, empowerment and advocacy.
After San Francisco, Dr. Hua was on the move again to the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with an emphasis in Higher Education while working as a Residence Director. She said Hawaiʻi was an incredible place to work where her worldview was transformed on how students, staff and faculty were able to center the history and culture of Hawaiʻi in and out of the classroom.
After building a career of working and advocating for students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, Dr. Hua is looking forward to building a cultural center at CCA that is just as special as Aurora.
“Aurora is the most diverse city in Colorado; it has the best food. All of the food here is so representative of the people,” Dr. Hua said. “I feel connected to the city and the work that we’re doing. We’re supporting folks in Colorado who would not be normally represented in education.”
As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), Dr. Hua sees CCA’s up-and-coming cultural center as an opportunity for racial and ethnic development, academic mentorship and support, leadership development, and more. By creating a space that is culturally relevant, celebratory of student’s identities, and bringing people together, Dr. Hua believes the cultural center will empower CCA’s students to learn about their identities and follow their dreams.
“I think there is such a stigma for reaching out and asking for help with anything,” Dr. Hua said. “My advice to all CCA students is to never stop asking for help and take advantage of all the incredible resources that are available.”