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CLC's dean of student life named national Hispanic leadership fellow

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jun 10, 2021

College of Lake County is proud to announce Dean of Student Life Dr. Gabe Lara was chosen to participate in the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Development Program as a 2021 Fellow. This prestigious program is designed to develop a pool of highly qualified Latinx professionals whose career interest focuses on assuming increasingly responsible administrative positions, with the goal of becoming a community college president.

Dean of Student Life Dr. Gabe LaraThe NCCHC’s primary purpose is to prepare strong leaders for the future, a commitment Lara is very excited to pursue as he trains to gain the necessary knowledge and skills needed to lead higher education into the future. Grateful for the opportunity to grow professionally, he said, “It is my responsibility to create spaces for students charged with enhancing their educational experience to empower them inside and outside of the classroom.”

As a Latino first-generation college student, Lara never saw anyone who looked like him in an administrator role while he was a student on campus. For this reason, he hopes to normalize someone who looks like him can be dean, vice president or president of an institution of higher education.

“My goal is to not only center Latinx student voices in the decisions we make as administrators, but to include them to be part of that change,” he said. “Throughout the years, having worked with so many students with varying identities, I have developed new strategies that allow me to transform and grow in this field.”

As a student, Maria Fernandez worked with Lara while chief of staff for the Student Government Association. “He helped us with so many things and he takes our ideas and opinions into account because he cares about the students. It shows he is truly here to serve the students and to make a difference at the college.”

The fellowship gives Lara a chance to further develop his leadership skills and challenge himself among his peers. Lara commented, “I know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to better serve students of all generations, but the key is to include diverse methods, modalities and techniques in order to address an integrated way of moving forward.”

Lara joined CLC in July 2020 during the pandemic. His strong leadership skills were immediately on display as he adeptly handled a series of critical issues, and he was quick to build relationships and actively listen to gain insights on all perspectives. He demonstrated leadership in navigating these and other important issues, and he continues to build a vison for the student life team in alignment with the college’s strategic plan to support transformative work in a student-focused culture.

Lara summed it up with, “The knowledge I will gain from this experience will enhance my leadership abilities through an equitable and inclusive lens impacting not only students, but my team and colleagues.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.

About the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Development Program

The NCCHC is an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges, a national organization that has provided leadership to the community college movement for the past half-century. During the past two years, more than 105 NCCHC Leadership Fellows have moved to positions of increased responsibility as executive level administrators, including chancellors, vice-chancellors and presidents.