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Director honored for increasing awareness of Hispanic issues

An Austin Peay State University director has been recognized for her efforts to bring greater awareness to Hispanic issues.

Heidi Scheusner Leming, director of Student Life and Leadership and administrative director of the Hispanic Cultural Center (HCC) at APSU, was presented the Outstanding Diversity Achievement Award for an Individual at the annual National Association of Campus Activities conference, held Feb. 16 in Nashville.
An Austin Peay State University director has been recognized for her efforts to bring greater awareness to Hispanic issues.

Heidi Scheusner Leming, director of Student Life and Leadership and administrative director of the Hispanic Cultural Center (HCC) at APSU, was presented the Outstanding Diversity Achievement Award for an Individual at the annual National Association of Campus Activities conference, held Feb. 16 in Nashville.

Greg Singleton, dean of students at APSU, and Dr. Miguel Ruiz-Aviles, associate professor of Spanish and HCC director, nominated Leming for her work with the Hispanic Cultural Center and other global and diversity initiatives.

Leming was instrumental in applying for a diversity access grant through the Tennessee Board of Regents and secured $13,000 to start a peer mentor program for Hispanic students on campus as well as several other programs to bring greater awareness to Hispanic issues.

Also, she has created several other internationally themed programs to bring awareness of different cultures and global issues to APSU's student body. During the Spring 2007 semester, Leming started a peer mentor program for Hispanic students. At that time, she had three mentors and six mentees. In Fall 2008, she doubled participation in the program, and students continue to express interest in becoming a mentor for future semesters.

Another signature program developed from the grant was a program, titled “Café Hispanico.” Every month, students gather to hear a speaker give a short presentation on an issue facing the Hispanic community. Students then gather in small groups to discuss their perceptions and experiences surrounding the topic. Every 20 minutes, some of the students rotate to a different table and share with that new group what was discussed in their previous pairing. At the end, all the groups share their comments with the speaker for additional conversation. This program originally started with a handful of participants attending, but after a full year of implementation, it now averages between 20-30 people each time.

For more information about the Hispanic Cultural Center or other efforts to increase diversity awareness at APSU, contact Leming by telephone at (931) 221-7431 or by e-mail at scheusnerh@apsu.edu. -- Melony Shemberger