Staff Directory

Luis F. Paredes, PhD

Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Dr. Luis F. Paredes is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Stetson University, where he is responsible for the inclusiveness, diversification, and reimagination of the academic model, as well as student engagement principles. His appointment requires the inclusion of student experiences in administrative decision-making. Conceiving of diversity as dynamic and transformative, and far from an assimilation to the mainstream, Dr. Paredes is charged with identifying and valuing the experiences of diverse millennials in order to produce a process where identity differences can be respected and embraced.

Following an opposite path to the one often trailed by Latin American immigrants, Dr. Luis F. Paredes was born in Queens, NY and sent over to his family’s homeland of Peru when he was only one month old. While his mother was working hard seeking out the “American Dream,” he grew up in Lima under the care of his maternal grandmother and extended family. His childhood was marked by jaranas, popular festivities that celebrate the black and indigenous roots of the Peruvian nation. Shortly before turning twelve, he was reunited with his mother in Beacon, NY where, while adapting to a new language and social environment, he managed to hold on to his Afro-Peruvian culture.

The bilingual and transnational character of Dr. Paredes’ life, family, and community, coupled with the interdisciplinary studies that he pursued at SUNY Albany, contributed to form a world-minded individual who questions and challenges cultural labels, social privileges, and racial inequalities. During the 12 years spent at SUNY Albany, Dr. Paredes amassed: a BA in World History and Spanish (2007), two MA degrees (Latin American Literature/Cultural Studies and Africana Studies, 2009 and 2010, respectively), and a PhD in Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latino Studies (2015). Focusing on the role of dance and music for the identity construction of historically oppressed groups, Dr. Paredes’ dissertation, Perú Negro: Choreographing and Performing Afro-Peruvian Identity, 1969 to the Present, sheds light on the predominantly overlooked Afro-Peruvian culture and identity.

Furthermore, while carrying out his studies, he also worked as an Academic Advisor for six years, where he counseled hundreds of undergraduate students, among whom many were minority and first-generation college students. Dr. Paredes has deep experience in student success, career development, financial aid, and international student services. Dr. Paredes has teaching experience in areas including: Topics in Ethnicity, Afro-Latin America, Cultures of Latin America, Spanish Linguistics, Latin American Literature, Dance/Performance Theory, Theories of Identity, and the First Year Experience. He serves as an AP Reader for the Spanish Literature and Culture Examination and he serves as the National Director of Expansion for Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Luis F. Paredes is an educator and administrator with a passion for facilitating student learning, particularly around social identity development.

Lindsey Graves

Assistant Director of Interfaith Initiatives

Lindsey Graves is the university's assistant director for interfaith initiatives. She is primarily responsible for creating and implementing a comprehensive interfaith program to include guidance and support for the university's religious and non-religious student organizations. Lindsey holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Tex. and a B.A. in Religious Studies from The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla.

Conference Presentations:

  • "Connecting and Building Peaceful Communities Through Meditation," The Parliament of the World's Religions (Salt Lake City, UT, 2015)
  • "Transformation From Within: A Model for Weaving Inclusive Excellence Into the Fabric of a University," National Conference On Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (Washington D.C., 2015)

David Nutting

AmeriCorps Member/MSC Programming Coordinator

David Nutting is the Notre Dame AmeriCorps member at the Cross Cultural Center for the 2015-2016 academic school year. He oversees the Multicultural Student Council (MSC) and the fourteen cultural based organizations the MSC umbrellas. His main responsibilities as the MSC coordinator include: engaging and empowering students to strive for a community of inclusive excellence, coordinating and planning large scale diversity initiatives with the MSC team, and serving as a peer mentor for student leadership development at the Tri-C. David is a recent graduate from Stetson University, graduating in May of 2015; he holds a dual degree with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. After he completes his term with AmeriCorps, he hopes to continue his education in graduate school and eventually receive his Ph.D. in philosophy. In the meantime, David looks forward to building up the infrastructure of the MSC as a sustainable exemplar for other student run organizations, and contributing to the Stetson community at large.

Samaris Cruz

Graduate Assistant/Peer Mentor Coordinator

Samaris Cruz is this year’s Graduate Assistant/Peer Mentor Coordinator in the Cross Cultural Center. She oversees SU First Peer Mentors. The Peer Mentor Program provides first generation students with resources to be successful at Stetson University. Her responsibilities as the Peer Mentor Coordinator include: engaging and empowering first generation students to strive for success at Stetson University, coordinating and planning academic and social events for the first generation audience, and serving as a peer mentor for first generation students. Samaris is a recent graduate from Stetson University, graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Education. She is currently working on her Master's Degree in Elementary Education: Educating for Social Justice. After completing her Master's Degree at Stetson University, she hopes to continue her education to receive her Ph.D. in Sociololgy. In the meantime, as a first generation student and former SU first peer mentor, Samaris plans on providing Stetson University with daring to be significant peer mentors, who are dedicated and want to help make a difference with first generation students.

Vanessa Petion

Multicultural Student Council Chair

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, Vanessa is a Communication and Media Studies sophomore with an Africana Studies minor. She serves as the Multicultural Student Council Chair. In this position, she seeks to spread diversity awareness throughout the University, while ensuring that all fourteen Multicultural Student Council organizations are known and recognized across campus. She is an active member of several organizations and serves as a Peer Tutor at the Writing Center. Her passions range from cultural awareness of all kinds, literacy, and eating.