Irene Encarnación sees herself as the eyes and ears of the Latino community at Northern Kentucky University.
“As an educator and activist, I speak out and loud when necessary,” she says. “I can manage a white board, a Zoom room or a bull horn all simultaneously. But my real mission is to disguise myself as a Spanish teacher to educate and raise our future Latino and non-Latino leaders.”
As the senior lecturer of Spanish and Latino Studies celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month this year, she reflects on nearly 30 years at NKU.
More specifically, Encarnación remembers NKU’s first Latino faculty member.
“I often look back to 1992 to thank Dr. Adalberto Pinelo,” she says. “A national expert on Latin-American Affairs and chair of the Political Science department, Al Pinelo was our biggest mentor. He brought together the four Latinos on campus every other week to discuss the future of Latinos.”
"My real mission is to disguise myself as a Spanish teacher to educate and raise our future Latino and non-Latino leaders."