For over a month now, newly hired Diversity Resource Center (DRC) Coordinator Gaby Lunasco has been meeting MHCC students and learning the responsibilities of her job.
She called her position at the DRC a “dream job” she wasn’t expecting to land when she initially applied.
“I was called for the interview and I was lucky enough to get the job offer,” she said. “I’ve been through a whole year of applying for jobs and nothing had happened to come of it,” and so she didn’t have high hopes at first.
Upon arriving for her work at Mt. Hood, Lunasco envisioned working with a very diverse group of students. “For me, diversity really goes beyond just race and ethnicity to include veteran status, disability status, socioeconomic status,” she said.
“I had a very different idea about East County in my head, so I am amazed and pleasantly surprised of the diversity of students that I see walking around campus.” She explained the area’s demographics have radically shifted during the 15 years she was away from Oregon.
She considers her new duties a “dream” because she spent her undergraduate college years in ethnic studies and sociology coursework, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Social Sciences degree, and a Master’s Degree in adult education and training. The DRC job “just kind of blends all of those things together and I get the opportunity to do that (train and educate adults).”
Lunasco first discovered she was interested in sociology when she was a teenager.
“In high school, I was kind of on the verge of getting in a lot of trouble,” she said. “I took sociology with this (favorite) instructor… and once I learned about what sociology was and how that kind of interacted with ethnic studies and all of that… it really got me thinking about, the broader reasons (of) why I was in a position that I was in.”
She then studied at the University of Oregon for four years, but almost flunked out, then left without graduating, she said. She worked various jobs for a while before going to Hawaii, where she met her husband, Travis. She finished her studies at Hawaii Pacific University, graduating with a social science degree.
Lunasco said she hopes to be at Mt. Hood for a long while. “I really think it’s an awesome time to be here. I think there’s a lot of energy building and I really do like working with the students that I’ve met so far,” she said.
During the summer, Lunasco said she wants to create “an integrated plan for student life and the DRC.” This would include partnerships with faculty and various academic departments to host events and build programs that celebrate diversity.
“I really want them (students) to know that this is their space. That if they have questions, or needs, or concerns around diversity, inclusion, equity, (or) even understanding what those terms mean – I would love to know that,” she said.
Currently, the DRC has a student advisory council that holds meetings at 1 p.m. Thursdays in its room, located at the south end (rear) of the Student Union, behind the Fireplace Gallery.