Dr. Luis Ponjuán is an Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University and is a co-founder of Project MALES and the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color. His research addresses the unique challenges male students of color face as they finish high school and enroll and finish a college credential or degree.
Dr. Ponjuán speaks across the nation to educational leaders focused on translating the research into professional practice. He continues to be an ambassador for the Consortium to ensure that others learn about what Texas schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions are doing to help male students of color academically succeed.
Dr. Ponjuán earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, Master’s degree from the Florida State University and Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of New Orleans. He is a first generation Cuban immigrant and college graduate. This year he delivers a keynote address focused on empowering summit participants to reflect on their potential and move in a positive direction towards personal and academic success. We are truly honored to have Dr. Ponjuán serve as our 2016 Texas Male Student Leadership Summit keynote speaker.
Zay Collier is an educator and an entrepreneur who has founded and grown more than 10 companies, including high-tech startups and non-profits. His successes span the gamut, from the development of a multimedia educational platform which employed a diverse cast of characters to help elementary students learn algebra to his latest efforts educating students through aviation and entrepreneurship. Currently, Zay is pursuing systemic change in education as a Bridge Fellowship with the national education reform organization, The New Teachers Project. He is also the CEO of a tech consulting firm and the founder of a non-profit that seeks to increase engagement in STEM through aviation. (Did we mention he’s also a pilot?)
Dr. César Cruz from marching 76-straight miles, to hunger striking for 26 days, César has dedicated his life to fighting for justice. He was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México and migrated to the U.S. at a young age with a single mother, and grandmother. César graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in History. He has been an educator for 22 years, in positions of leadership for the last 17 years, most recently serving as the Dean of Secondary Schools Program at Harvard University. For the last four years, he has overseen the Homies Empowerment Program serving gang impacted/involved youth in Oakland, CA. He is the author of two books, Revenge of the Illegal Alien, and Bang for Freedom. He received his doctorate in Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, becoming the first Mexican immigrant male to do so. Amidst all, he is proudest to be a husband, and father of three children: Olin, Amaru and Quetzali.
Ernesto Mejia, is the proud son of Mexican immigrants, is a true example of the American dream. Diagnosed with the rare disease of Guillain-Barré Syndrome at the age of 16 that left him temporarily paralyzed, he was not supposed to be a successful student, much less a College Dean of Students. Through his hardships, Mr. Mejia learned to never give up on life. A founding member of the Student Leadership Inspired by Consuelo Kickbusch (SLiCK) program, Mr. Mejia now speaks to students, parents and teachers about overcoming obstacles and never giving up on the American dream: education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University.
Dr. Cristobal Salinas Jr,, is an assistant professor in the Educational Leadership and Research Methodology Department at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education. He holds a B.A. in Spanish Education and ESL from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and a M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies and Ph.D. in Higher Education, both from Iowa State University. He coauthored the Iowa’s Community Colleges: A Collective History of Fifty Years of Accomplishment book. Cristobal is the co-founder and Managing Editor for the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. His research promotes access and quality in higher education, and explores the social, political, and economic context of education opportunities for historically marginalized communities, with an emphasis on Latino/a communities.
Dr. Sarah Rodriguez, is an assistant professor of Community College Leadership/Higher Education at Iowa State University. Dr. Rodriguez has been involved with the Improving Outcomes for Men of Color in Community Colleges Initiative at the Center for Community College Student Engagement and serves as an Affiliate Faculty Member for Project M.A.L.E.S and the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3). Dr. Rodriguez’s research addresses issues of equity, access, and retention for Latina/o students in the higher education pipeline, with a particular focus on the intersections of race/ethnicity and gender for Latinas in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and Latinos in community colleges. She received her Ph.D., in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin and holds a M.S. from the University of Tennessee as well as a B.A. in English and Spanish from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Master of Ceremonies
Dr. Patrick Valdez, has held several executive level positions at public and private universities as well as national higher education associations in Washington D.C. Dr. Valdez has committed his life to helping students overcome the barriers and obstacles to obtaining a college degree and currently serves as dean of the Undergraduate College at College Mount Saint Vincent. He received a bachelor of arts in International Studies from St.Edward’s University, a master of arts degree in Student Personnel Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University in the City of New York, and a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Texas Austin.
The 2016 Texas Male Student Leadership Summit is sponsored by the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color, an initiative of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, with additional support from the following partners and sponsors:
The Greater Texas Foundation
Austin Independent School District
El Paso Community College
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Austin Community College
Alamo Colleges (San Antonio College and Palo Alto College)
University of North Texas
Texas Guaranteed Student Loan (TG)
Silicon Valley Bank
Texas State University
The Kresge Foundation
The Center for Mexican American Studies (UT)
Texas A&M University