Multicultural Center Celebrates First Year

By Yesenia Pacheco '22/'23

Following almost three years of anticipation, the new Multicultural Center opened to fanfare and a party that lasted from the morning to the evening of Feb. 22, 2023. In celebration of the center’s first birthday, Yesenia Pacheco (coordinator of Student Transition, Access, and Retention) interviewed student workers in the center to learn more about its purpose. 

Almost one year ago, the Multicultural Center opened its doors and signaled a new era at Stockton University.

The Multicultural Center was built to serve as a resource for the entire campus community while placing the experiences of diverse and historically marginalized groups at the center. The space was intentionally developed, decorated and designed in order to cultivate counter-spaces that actively support the engagement, sense of belonging and development of African-American, Latinx, Asian and Native American (ALANA) students.

This was a long-awaited moment for Stockton’s faculty, staff and students, and it could be seen as a necessary addition by the large, enthusiastic crowd who gathered at the new space to celebrate its grand opening. Since then, the Multicultural Center has evolved into an intentional space that hosts daily events, discussions, activities and even classes.

The Multicultural Center buzzes with a diverse array of events and programs on a weekly and monthly basis, enhancing the campus experience for all; some programming staples include their Fred Flicks Series, Real Talk Tuesdays, Soul Food Sundays and their Cultural Kickbacks. Additionally, the Multicultural Center actively participates in cultural heritage month programming, commemorating the histories and contributions of historically marginalized identities throughout the year. 

President Emeritus Harvey Kesselman and the team behind the Multicultural Center cutting the ribbon in February

Jovin Fernandez, director of the Multicultural Center, during her remarks

Students surrounding Professor of Music Bev Vaughn on the piano during the afterparty

Student Senator Joshua Hunte gave brief remarks during the ribbon-cutting

Students posing for a photo in the center

The center's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space allows students to openly discuss their concerns, share their experiences and connect with others who may share similar backgrounds. What Jovin Fernandez has created and accomplished with the Multicultural Center in just one year has been extraordinary."

These programs, events and initiatives hosted by the center have started educational, engaging, and important dialogues and encouraged understanding of diverse topics across our institution. Each of these opportunities allows for the Multicultural Center’s impact to be echoed throughout campus, and the work that is done through the Multicultural Center highlights why intentionality is very important.

When events and programs are not taking place, students can be found connecting with their peers, completing their homework, and using the kitchen appliances provided within the space. Staff, interns and the PREP (Proud, Resilient, Educated Peers) Team work collaboratively to not only facilitate and support programming but also foster a sense of belonging in the center.

The PREP team, created by director Jovin Fernandez, are students who further serve as champions in our communities by spreading education and awareness to others. The team actively works toward implementing targeted strategies and programs and has even visited other universities’ multicultural centers to enhance its impact further. Through a combination of culturally sensitive counseling services, educational workshops and tailored programming, PREP Team members like Taina Altagracia-Paris and Kayla Flowers strive to create an environment that not only acknowledges but proactively meets the diverse needs of our student community, promoting inclusivity and academic success for all.

“We want to make sure that this center feels like a home,” said Atlagracia-Paris, a senior in the Literature program. “I think the PREP Team and Ms. Jovin have really strived to have that energy because it's not something you can just cultivate easily: this is something that has to come naturally. Ms. Jovin is very intentional about how the PREP Team is spreading education, awareness, belongingness, and inclusivity at the Multicultural Center and always says, ‘#MoreThanAMonth.’” 

Taina and Kayla
Altagracia-Paris and Flowers. Photos by Bernard DeLury. 

“Working in the Multicultural Center has been a positive, educational and motivating experience for me,” said Flowers, a senior in the Health Sciences program. “Positive because of the energy that the center brings, the people that I work with, and the purpose that I'm here working for and that I am a part of. Educational because I've learned so much by reading different articles and reading from different perspectives. Motivating because it motivates me to want to do more, to show up because you are doing it for a good reason, and to see how the work that we do has impacted others.”

The Multicultural Center has played a major role in addressing the unique needs of students by fostering an environment that recognizes and supports those of diverse backgrounds. The center's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive space allows students to openly discuss their concerns, share their experiences and connect with others who may share similar backgrounds.

Looking ahead, the Multicultural Center is committed to advancing its goals and continuing its mission of promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. The center plans to expand programming, increase collaboration across campus and hopefully create more initiatives that will extend its impact even further. The center hopes that more students, faculty and staff learn about the resources offered in the space and that this space continues to find new, innovative ways to unite the Stockton community. 

The Multicultural Center will celebrate its one-year anniversary on Feb. 22,  from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the space. Fernandez and the PREP Team invite everyone to come together once more while enjoying cultural food, performances and more. 

Yesenia Pacheco

About the Contributor 

Yesenia Pacheco is coordinator for Student Transition, Access and Retention, a 2023 alumna of the Master of Social Work program and a new member of the Campus Committee on Diversity & Inclusive Excellence.

The Wait is Over: Multicultural Center Opens


Jovin and students outside of the Multicultural Center
Jovin Fernandez (center) and students outside of the Multicultural Center. Photo by Susan Allen. 

The long-awaited Multicultural Center opened its doors on Feb. 22, 2023. The inaugural director of the Center, Jovin Fernandez, has many ideas for the types of programming and services the center will offer and how they will impact ALANA (African-American, Latinx, Asian and Native American) students.

What to Expect at the Multicultural Center

The Multicultural Center is a vibrant hub that welcomes and serves all members of our community, including students, faculty, staff, alums and other campus visitors. The center provides visitors with a home away from home and a source of educational opportunities. In other words, students can expect this space to be one they consider theirs – while also serving the broader Stockton University community. 

The center will host programming in its lounge; the programming will come from both the center and the multicultural communities of Stockton, including student organizations, faculty, staff and alumni. Some upcoming programs include Real Talk Tuesday, a series created to give students a brave space to engage in difficult topics, and Soul Food Sundays, a monthly gathering for the Stockton community to enjoy soul food and soul-healing conversations.