Staff: Joe Saucedo
Department of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs
Student Life & Engagement, Division of Student Development
Prior Residence Life Resident Director at WTC
Started LUC: 2010
I’m originally from San Antonio, Texas but most recently moved to Chicago after living and working in Los Angeles for four years. When it came time to decide where to go to college and what to study, I chose Georgetown University because of its location in Washington, DC, and at the time an international business major would set me up for the chance to work abroad. The generous financial aid package also made it more affordable for me, a first-generation student with working-class parents to leave home.
After graduating with a marketing degree, I stayed on the East Coast then returned home to San Antonio to work in general market and Latino advertising helping to manage national and regional campaigns for a range of clients including the Washington DC Transit Authority (public transportation), Continental Airlines, San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the American Legacy Foundation (Truth anti-smoking campaign). While the experience was eye-opening and I learned many valuable lessons, I chose to shift gears and pursue a career in education. Guided by a passion for helping others to find their potential, I landed a position with the Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound program in Southern California. Working with high school students from low-income communities really gave me purpose and allowed me to repay the investment and support I received from many of my own teachers and mentors. I was inspired to earn a graduate degree in education and after graduating from UCLA, I was hired as a Resident Director of Baumhart Hall at Loyola’s Water Tower Campus. I bring all of my unique experiences to work each day and I wear my multiple identities like a badge of honor.
I am all about getting to know people one-on-one and so the first step in helping students is establishing rapport and getting to know who they are and where they are coming from. Through my daily work in SDMA, I have been able to connect students with resources on campus that can make it possible for them to feel like they belong to a community and that they are equipped to succeed.
With regard to the Students Together Are Reaching Success (STARS) program, I support as well as challenge my peer mentor staff to guide their first-year students on successfully adjusting to life as a Loyola student. We have conversations that range from effective study strategies to ways that they feel marginalized as students of color. Additionally, I meet with mentees to check in on how they are doing and together we troubleshoot during those times where they feel like they are drowning in school work, pressures from their families, or whatever the case may be. Campus partners such as staff from First & Second Year Advising and the Office of Financial Assistance become critical since these are the people I will refer students to in order to access resources.
Forging connections between students, colleagues, and people in general is something I pride myself on mainly because I’m reminded by how generous most people are with their time and resources. For example, my prior work experience in advertising and marketing has facilitated strong relationships with colleagues from all over the country. When I have students interested in pursuing a career in this field or if they are in need of internships, I never hesitate to reach out to my friends and ask that they connect with students to share their own experiences or offer advice.
The staff of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs work hard to ensure that all members of the Loyola community are doing their part to make this institution an inclusive and welcoming environment. To that end, we provide trainings, education workshops, mentoring programs, and other resources focused on social justice, equity, and inclusion. In addition to being a place for students to connect, I’ve enjoyed how our office brings together staff and professors who are also exploring their own identity development.
Location is everything and I must admit that having our office so visible and prominent in the Damen Student Center helps to attract people from all walks at Loyola. Our Resource Room (lounge) is where students flock to on a daily basis to complete study hours, eat their lunch, or simply find a welcoming spot to catch up with friends.
Much of the programming developed by SDMA is identity-specific such as Q Initiatives which includes weekly dialogue spaces for members of the Loyola LGBTQI community or LUCES (Loyola University Chicago Empowering Sisterhood) which fosters a space for women of color to build sistership, scholarship, and leadership. Although there is a perception that SDMA is a resource only for underrepresented students, I hope that all of Loyola recognizes the ways in which multiple identities and lived experiences can intersect so that diversity applies to everyone.
I tend to smile all the time but it’s the people at Loyola that give me reason to feel grateful that I work here. I genuinely look forward to coming to work each day because I know that my contributions to my team, students and campus are valued. The SDMA team operates like a family and so we often share in the excitement of our students’ success. By the same token, we also find comfort in coming together with our fellow Rambler community during times of tragedy.
Within my role in the Division of Student Development, I sit on a few committees including Family Weekend, Assessment, and a Study Abroad Diversity Committee. I thoroughly appreciate the camaraderie from my colleagues on these committees and often will learn about new initiatives taking place in other areas.
The students who comprise the SDMA Leaders group of peer mentors, interns, and scholars operationalize the values of our University’s mission. They inspire and motivate me to be the best resource and advocate that I can be for them. There is something very special about the care and concern shown for others here at Loyola.
My work in student diversity is deeply personal and emotional so I try to bring levity to a situation. Over the years, I have come to embrace any opportunity where I can be vulnerable and share my own challenges and sources of strength with students. As a Latino, first-generation college graduate from a low-income community, I have seized every opportunity to share my narrative with students in multiple areas of Loyola. Whether through my previous work in Residence Life or my current work coordinating the STARS program and volunteering as Staff Advisor to the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), I make it a point to check in with students from underrepresented backgrounds to see how they are thriving in college. Often these groups are considered to be lacking in skills, confidence, and resources to succeed so my impact is rooted in helping them to identify sources of strength and points of pride.
I’ll borrow from author/activist, Cornel West who says that “justice is what love looks like in public.” I believe that true social justice goes beyond providing access to the same services and resources to all. It requires each person to understand the unique needs of groups and justice calls us to arrive at solutions that respect these needs.
Although I work in student diversity, I do not consider myself to be an expert on the topic of social justice. I stress to students and colleagues that I am always learning and growing in my own identity development. I can easily relate to individuals who are treated unfairly for being different from the social “norm,” however I can also appreciate now where I hold privilege. Given my privileged identities as a heterosexual, cisgender male, with a college education, I know that I have a responsibility to confront oppression when I see it which is why I feel so passionate about the work of my department. The new strategic plan for Loyola has a strong emphasis on social justice so I look forward to see ways that our current initiatives will take on new meaning with the buy-in from all areas of the University.
I’ve been influenced by Jesuit education since my days at Georgetown as a first-generation student living far from home. The values of my alma mater and Loyola align with my personal values so it is not surprising that I feel so comfortable and inspired here. The practice of discernment is something I could not articulate as an undergraduate pursuing a career in the corporate sector. It is not until years later that I assessed my job and determined that fulfillment in every aspect of my life was most important. This eventually led me to change careers, move across the country and find myself working full-time at a Jesuit university.
I was raised Catholic and have experienced my own religious and spiritual identity in different ways since going to college. It has been refreshing to now work professionally in an environment that encourages staff to engage in self-reflection since it allows for me to take a break from the job and dig deep into making meaning of my various experiences. It may sound cheesy or naïve, but I continue to believe that things happen for a reason. This philosophy allowed me to seriously consider the opportunity to work in Residence Life at Loyola after graduating with my master’s degree in higher education. At the time, I was primarily seeking positions in multicultural affairs and advising so when a friend told me to apply for a Resident Director position I was a bit reluctant. Fortunately, the chance to join the Loyola community and live and work at the Water Tower Campus proved to be a winning decision that taught me so many valuable lessons and oriented me to the great city of Chicago.
My favorite spot at the Water Tower Campus is the 4th floor lounge at Baumhart Hall. As former Resident Director, I have fond memories of hall programs, staff meetings, and my first Thanksgiving dinner in Chicago. There is something incredibly calming about water so once in a while I will take a break from the office and go for a walk along the lakefront path in front of the IC and Madonna della Strada chapel. This has become my favorite spot at the Lake Shore Campus and one that reminds me of how beautiful this place is.
There are lots of great memories over the years but one that stands out is the inaugural Brothers for Excellence retreat that SDMA hosted last September. It was designed to orient first-year and transfer students who are men of color to Loyola. As a staff mentor to students in this program for the past few years, the retreat provided such a meaningful space to unpack hypermasculinity, racism, and the lived experiences of students and colleagues who have felt oppressed or misunderstood. It was also very empowering to share the ways that we as men of color at a predominantly White university can derive strength and motivation to succeed.
The retreat took place over two days at both the Lake Shore and Water Tower campuses and we ended the experience by cheering on the Chicago White Sox at a game on the south side. One of the highlights from the weekend was hearing several students use the word “brother” to refer to one another. I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat!
The college experience is so different for each person and so I recommend students not put so much pressure on doing everything that everyone else seems to be doing. It is about growing, making mistakes, taking bold risks, and trusting that it will all work out as it should. Loyola is an institution with a wealth of resources, opportunities, and people who are compassionate and helpful. My advice for future Ramblers is to prioritize academics, relationships with friends who will be honest and caring, and getting involved in a student organization or off-campus group. Being a Rambler does not end the day you graduate; after coming to Loyola you will be part of an extraordinary community that transcends geographic boundaries and time.