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Vice president of student affairs finalists addresses suicide

Dr. Pedro J. Santana (courtesy of the South Jersey Times)

Dr. Pedro J. Santana (courtesy of the South Jersey Times)

Andrew Freeman

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Dr. Pedro José Santana, one of the finalists for the vice president of student affairs position, held an open forum Sept. 28 to explain why he would be an adequate choice for the job and to answer any questions the audience might have for him.

Santana began the forum by discussing his past, and how it played into his drive to help students in any way that he could.

“I grew up in Washington Heights, directly North of Harlem. It was a difficult place to grow up in, at the time it had the highest homicide rate of any of the NYC boroughs,” Santana said.

“And yet despite such living conditions, I graduated high school when I was 16, and began attending Buffalo University. But once I started to attend college, I almost gave up a few days later,” Santana continued. “Nobody looked like me there, and I felt like I didn’t belong there. But then I began to meet mentors, people who could guide and teach me and made me feel welcome. That is what I want to do for my students.”

Santana continued with an explanation of how he stays in touch with the student body at his current job as dean of student affairs at Stockton University in New Jersey.

“I walk around the campus of Stockton three times a day, looking for any student that I can help. I give them my card with my phone number on it, and tell them that if the problem continues, to call me so I can continue to help.”

Santana then went on to discuss some of what he had accomplished as the dean of student affairs at Stockton.

“I had several of our councilors create a resilience video series that highlighted stories of people who had committed or attempted to commit suicide.”

“The purpose of these videos was to bring down social stigma. This way, students who needed help could do so without fear of what others thought of them” Santana said.

One question asked by an audience member was how Santana planned to work with the Greek organizations on campus, and how he planned to help improve them if he won the position.

“I would start by working to get more students involved in the Greek community, and by getting Greeks involved in more community-oriented activities,” Santana responded. “Activities like volunteering at the local schools and charities, anything that gives back to Chico.”

“In return, these accomplishments would be rewarded and celebrated. Because if you have a high GPA, work with alumni and contribute to your community, you deserve to be celebrated.”

The new vice president of student affairs will be chosen later this month.

Andrew Freeman can be reached at [email protected] or at @Andrew_LFreemanon Twitter.

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Vice president of student affairs finalists addresses suicide