Showcasing the stories of our diverse student body, spotlighting peer leaders for others to learn from.


Itzel Velazquez, (she, her, hers)

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
Class of 2021: Graduate Student in Higher Education
Ambassador: Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE)


The first time I experienced community at Loyola was through my departmental organization the Higher Education Student Association (HESA). I attended the HESA Orientation and was able to meet current students in the program but also get to meet my professors. This not only allowed me to feel comfortable moving forward academically but also allowed me to build community with my cohort. Coming from Arkansas, I had a lot to learn about living in a big city and was able to get more informed about things people who already lived here knew.

“For graduate students who are looking to build community, I encourage you to explore an organization such as Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE).”

EDGE builds community by bringing a diverse group of people together not only across multiple disciplines but with various identities. The primary objective of EDGE is to advocate for campus-wide diversity initiatives, including policies and programming. The organization has been a place to meet individuals who understand the importance of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) work not only at the institutional level but that we can each bring back to our current programs or research. This work is not done in a silo as we collaborate with other organizations such as the Black Graduate Student Alliance (BGSA), White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL), and Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC), to name a few.