Multicultural Student Development assistant director wants to continue inclusive environment

Marlen Cardenas, Reporter

During his 12 years at App State, Marco Fonseca Rodriguez was an undergraduate student, a graduate student and an academic coordinator. Now, he is the new assistant director for Multicultural Student Development. 

“I wanted to make a transition to work with students that are already here,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like it was time to make a professional change. I wanted a new challenge, and I was looking forward to having more interaction and more contact with the students that are here and seeing what their experience was like at Appalachian.”

Rodriguez graduated in 2011 with two bachelor’s degrees in international and comparative politics and French and went on to get his master’s degree in geography. 

Rodriguez was president of the International Friendship Association, a men’s soccer club member, a resident assistant at the Living Learning Center, head lab manager at the tutoring center and a diversity scholar.

“I helped at a number of different events, welcoming prospective students and families, working with underrepresented populations and building a more inclusive environment for those who are already here or are looking to come here,” Rodriguez said. 

Coordinator of MSD Kendall Rankin said Rodriguez can bridge the gap between Latinx students and MSD.

“Having Marco onboard has given us the opportunity to make sure we are going beyond just being transactional with students of the Latinx population. It is sending a message that we are being genuine about our interactions and what it is we are doing to make sure that we are supporting everyone,” Rankin said.

Sophomore electronic media and broadcasting major Brenda Valdez said she is optimistic about Rodriguez’s new position.

We want to make sure that people know that our doors are always open to have dialogue about any sort of topic that they feel is necessary to address.

— Marco Fonseca Rodriguez

“The ideas that he has, especially about the representation for the Latinx and Asian population, is something that he knows is needed. It looks like he’s really going to do his best that this is possible,” Valdez said. 

Valdez is the public relations chair for the Hispanic Student Association and said she already notices MSD is more involved with the multicultural clubs on campus. 

“What I’m seeing right now is that they are trying to reach out to us more,” Valdez said. “A lot still needs to be done, but I think they are doing a pretty good job, and it’s going to get better. I think (Rodriguez) is doing a really good job, and I hope that in my last three years here at App, I get to see him keep doing great things.”

Rankin said he hopes MSD will continue to become more “inclusive and intentional” when working with students from diverse backgrounds.

MSD is for all students, not just students of color, Rodriguez said.  

“We want to make sure that people know that our doors are always open to have dialogue about any sort of topic that they feel is necessary to address,” Rodriguez said. “To the rest of the campus, who maybe don’t know how to navigate conversations about social justice, or racial tension, or religious differences, we are here.”

Rodriguez also wants to continue to help the university with diversification and make sure students feel the same safety and acceptance he felt as a student.

“I want to ensure that all of our students have a truly unique and transformative experience when they come to Appalachian — one that they feel supported in, safe in and challenged in so they can continue growing,” Rodriguez said. “I’m happy to be in this role; I’m happy that I was given this opportunity, and now, I want to make sure that I am able to be that resource for our students.”