Claudio Rodriguez joins Chicano-x Latino-x Student Services (CLSS) as its new director. As an immigrant from Mexico City, he moved to the U.S. to pursue higher education and found ways to live out his passion through working with and building community in spaces. As the new CLSS director, he’s excited to build relationships with this community and help it grow.
One example is the term Latine, which is being used more often than Latinx. Latine is a more gender and language-inclusive term because in the Spanish language, the pronunciation of the letter X is not common, and it can be difficult for native speakers to pronounce it in a way that feels comfortable. The letter E in Spanish is more gender-neutral too. “Latine culture is engrained in my life because it’s the culture I was raised in,” said Rodriguez. “I can look at this culture and working with students from the lens of my own personal struggles and how building relationships during my time in higher education has helped me through those struggles.”
Before joining LMU, Rodriguez and his wife, Ashley, lived in Texas for 13 years, where his experiences were grounded in working with students through housing and residence life. Rodriguez initially joined LMU in 2019 to be the resident director for Whelan Hall but pursued a permanent position as the assistant to the dean of students in 2020 and became the resident minister for Rosecrans Hall. He felt a strong connection with the people and the values of LMU when interviewing to work in the dean’s office. “The way people talked about the values and mission through their work at LMU made me feel like I belonged here, and it aligned with the work I was already doing in my life,” said Rodriguez. The move also took Rodriguez closer to his family, who live near Malibu, and he remembers when he would take the bus from LAX and drive past campus, wondering what it would be like to work with the Lion community.
Rodriguez wants to support all students and is excited to work within the Ethnic and Intercultural Services suite, which includes the Office for International Students and Scholars, because he knows the challenges and struggles students will face as an international student himself. After working in the dean’s office for the past few years, he brings a wealth of knowledge on resources and connections with campus partners that can help all students. “My passion for the student experience, and helping students find the help they need, have been the center of my work.” He also lives in Rosecrans Hall and serves as a resident minister for Student Housing. He serves as a part-time case manager for Community of Care, which supports students during times of need and connects them with resources, all central to his identity and the core passions of his new work in CLSS.
One of Rodriguez’s goals in this new role is to build relationships with community members outside of the LMU, so he can help connect LMU students with opportunities to learn, work and grow even after they graduate. “Overall, this first year for me to build relationships with the community, beyond connecting with students, I’m also looking to be a bridge between the Latino/a/e faculty and staff to build stronger relationships that ultimately help us all better assist our students,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is kicking off his programming experience by leading our community through Latina/o/x/e Heritage Month to celebrate the culture and traditions of U.S. residents with cultural ties to Latin America. While the LMU community celebrates Latine/x culture all year long, join this month of events to celebrate and be in the community. “I want to thank all of the offices and departments partnered with CLSS,” said Rodriguez. “I know these moments are important for highlighting our Latine/x culture for students and the greater L.A. community who identify with this culture and be proud of its heritage. I want to inspire our community around programming, recognizing the many cultures within the LMU community.” Some events to highlight this month are:
- Sept. 21 – Wellness Wednesday with a performance from Grupo Folklorico Performance
- Sept. 26-30 – Latine/Queer Students Art Exhibit on the William H. Hannon Library, first floor
- Oct. 3-7 – Civic Engagement Week and Horchata will be the drink of the week in The Lion’s Den
- Oct. 6 – Justice on Tap: Dr. Fernando Guerra, 7 p.m. in St. Robert’s Auditorium
- Oct. 10 – New Story Nonprofit Org Documentary and Q and A, 6 p.m. in St. Robert’s Auditorium
- Oct. 12 – Financial Literacy Workshop for Students, 7 p.m. in Von Der Ahe 190.
Outside his work at LMU, Rodriguez is also pursuing a doctoral degree in education from the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit intuition. He also serves as a beertender at The Loft, which bridges his passion for meeting students and socializing with them outside of a resource and support environment.
One of Rodriguez’s favorite memories during his other roles at LMU was working in Whelan Hall, where he felt like the community became strong. “The LAX living-learning community offered a way for students to experience L.A. culture by going on outings locally like a Dodger game, the Getty Museum,” said Rodriguez. “It allowed students to build relationships that have now become their core group of friends to this day. When I work in The Loft, I still see those relationships and core group of students being in community together.”