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Unapologetically Arturo

"You can do some miraculous work when you’re one against 100, but you do some powerful stuff when you’re in 100."
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Arturo Minera
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For many years, Arturo Minera ('14) allowed people to call him Artie because they had trouble pronouncing his name. But Minera believes your identity is who you are and something you should own, and now he's unapologetically himself.

"This is something with a deep-rooted personal conviction," Minera says. "They couldn’t pronounce it, and I felt awkward. As a full-fledged adult, I realize that didn’t really resolve the issue. The reason I want to go by Arturo now is because the kids I work with are going through the same thing and we’re allowing—in many parts of our culture and in being here—for us to give up more of ourselves.

"We got to fight back and say, 'Nah, man, my name is Arturo.'"

While Minera’s parents emigrated from Guatemala, he grew up in Miami, Florida. His father made the decision to pursue opportunities in Cincinnati, Ohio, after a push from his grandparents.

Throughout his childhood, Minera felt like he was one against many since the people around him didn’t look like him. It was when he came to Northern Kentucky University that he found himself.

"There is a specific kind of energy you get when you’re the only person," he says. "You can do some miraculous work when you’re one against 100, but you do some powerful stuff when you’re in 100—when you’re in a group of people who are like you. Just knowing there was a program in my college years… with so many people down with the mission and the idea of promoting the culture and how to do it right."

While on campus, Minera got involved with Latino Programs and Services (LPS) and the Latino Mentor Program (LAMP). While this helped him find a relatable group on campus, he says the real impact is when everyone gets involved and "plugged in" to other groups on campus. 

"I think what’s so successful about the office and how we do things is that we are very silent. We just do it," he says. "It was so awesome when we realized there was successful Latino representation in every social fraternity and every honors fraternity here. That was a big win for us when we saw that there were search committees for provosts and many upper positions that we were involved in. The student rep was a Latino, and it wasn’t something we bragged about. Whatever we’re doing was working."

Minera says he was the shyest and quietest person, but NKU's programs helped bring him out of his shell.

"When I was in that room, when I was in those organizations, I was more like everyone else around me,” he says. "I think that was the most rewarding part of my involvement."

Minera, a first-generation student, was proud to see TRIO Student Support Services and LPS guide him through his college career. 

"They reached out to me," he says. "I got to trust that whoever is reaching out to me is looking out for my best and understands the context of where I am coming from, and they did."

“When I was in that room, when I was in those organizations, I was more like everyone else around me ... I think that was the most rewarding part of my involvement."

Minera also says he owes a lot to people like Leo Calderon and Irene Encarnación in LPS. 

"Leo was relentless," he says. "What I look up to Leo and everyone under his leadership is that all of them are unapologetically passionate. Be unapologetically you, and when you have someone at the top doing that, even the most shy person will find their niche to be 'unapologetically me.'"

Minera graduated from NKU as a University Honors Scholar with a degree in Electronic Media and Broadcasting in 2014. He wasn’t sure of his path after college, but he received a sign when he was asked to work at City Gospel Mission. 

He had volunteered for the organization for several years, and his father had a hand in starting the Hispanic Outreach branch. Minera works now in that branch in the youth department. 

"City Gospel’s vision is breaking the cycle of poverty and despair—one life at a time," he says. “We are simply making sure the Hispanic community is included in that vision."

Minera says that he connects with those students every day by bridging the gap. He wanted to take what he learned, foster it and give back to the community. 

This also includes encouraging students to be themselves.

"I want these kids to be able to call themselves and be called what their parents intended to be and not have to not do that because of the intimidation and the awkwardness," he says. 

That's why Minera thinks it's important to celebrate (and flaunt) your identity during Hispanic Heritage Month.

"My mom already needs to get all the recognition that she deserves," he says. "Every one of our parents that is doing whatever they can deserves flowers every day, deserves a round of applause every day. The reality is some of us won’t have the opportunity for this—for secondary education or the recognition for the good work they do every day for little. I wish I could recognize all the hardworking Hispanic families, give them a rose and a hug. There is a mom out there who is working so hard to make college possible, working so hard to at least make sure there is a plate of rice, beans and tortillas at home for them so they don’t have to worry about dinner that day. They deserve a rose."

For prospective students, Minera says it’s not about whether you’ll find yourself or not because you will find yourself at NKU. LPS will make sure of that. His main advice is to keep it going. 

"You need to get plugged into something," he says. "You can make it here. Prepare the table for the next nervous kid that comes through."

About This Article

Lizzie Kibler
Lizzie Kibler ('16)
Magazine Contributor
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Published September 2020
Photography provided by Arturo Minera
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