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Opportunities and Challenges Facing Diverse Populations Today

National Park College
Event organized by National Park College

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Panel Discussion: Challenges and Opportunities Facing Diverse Populations Today

The Cultural Diversity Awareness Club brings back its "We Belong" guest speakers, along with NPC student Lorena Fitzpatrick, to have a conversation about issues and opportunities facing diverse populations.

Moderated by Jay Bell
Wednesday, April 4
Eisele Auditorium - Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences
Free lunch for all who attend!

Panel Speakers:
Kai Coggin, local poet, author, and activist
Kai is a former Houston Teacher of the Year turned poet and author living in the valley of a small mountain in Hot Springs. She received her B.A. in English, Poetry, and Creative Writing from Texas A&M University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom, Assaracus, Calamus Journal, Lavender Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Luna Luna, Blue Heron Review, Yellow Chair Review, and elsewhere. Kai is the author of two full-length collections, PERISCOPE HEART (Swimming with Elephants, 2014) and WINGSPAN (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016), as well as a spoken word album called SILHOUETTE (2017). Her poetry has been nominated twice for The Pushcart Prize, as well as Bettering American Poetry 2015, and Best of the Net 2016.

Lorena Fitzpatrick, NPC Student
Lorena Fitzpatrick is one of NPC’s student leaders. She is currently Reporter and Historian of the Cultural Diversity Awareness Club and can be found attending and helping with various student activities on campus. Lorena immigrated to the United States as a teenager. After graduation from NPC, she plans to transfer to the University of Central Arkansas to study K-12 World Languages and English as a Second Language. Lorena said her dream of becoming an educator was born out of the positive influence of her first-grade teacher in a small town in Southern Mexico. She is currently a full-time student and balances her studies with maintaining a family and job. In her words, “I am living proof of the American dream. Success can be achieved if one works hard, never gives up, and treats all with dignity and respect. I want to give back not only to the community where I live but to America. This great country gave me an opportunity to provide for my family.” Lorena has shared with others the difficulty she had over the years and how challenging it is for immigrants who are not aware of the educational resources available. “I believe in myself now,” she says. “I actually think I can do this and I didn’t before. Having people tell you that makes a huge difference.”

Eric Higgins, retired assistant chief of the Little Rock Police Department
Eric Higgins is a 30-year veteran of the Little Rock Police Department. He retired after 10 years as Assistant Chief of Police in 2015. Eric has been an instructor at Arkansas Baptist College since 2013 and starting January 2016 became Director of the Derek Oliver Research Institute for the Prevention of Black on Black Violence at Arkansas Baptist College. He is the Director of Outcomes Assessment with the National OK Program and a managing member of SOF Solutions LLC consulting. He is a volunteer instructor with the re-entry program, The Exodus Project – Out for Life. Eric earned a B.S. in Multidisciplinary Studies: Government and Business and an M.A. in Human Services: Executive Leadership and Counseling from Liberty University. He is a member of Volunteers in Public Schools Executive Board, Institute for Law Enforcement Administration Alumni, and Leadership Greater Little Rock Alumni, and also serves as President of the Governing Board of Lisa Academy Public School. Eric has been married for 27 years and has two daughters.

Dr. Veronikha Salazar, Associate Dean of students at Henderson State University
Dr. Salazar was the Director of Hispanic Outreach and Retention at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA. She was also the Associate Director for Leadership, Education and Development at the University of Arkansas’s Multicultural Center from 2008-2011 and the Program Coordinator for International Student and Scholars at the University of Arkansas from 2001-2007. Dr. Salazar is originally from Chiclayo, Peru. She obtained her master’s and doctoral degrees in adult education with an emphasis in Multicultural Education from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Salazar has served on numerous boards and committees in the states of Arkansas and Georgia. Her many awards and recognition ranging from “Outstanding Faculty”, “Presenter of the Year” to “Arkansas Traveler” by Governors Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe. She is currently a member of Rotary Sunrise Club of Arkadelphia. She attends Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia.