Learn About La Comunidad Intelectual

Contributed by H. Kenny Nienhusser

La Comunidad Intelectual (LCI) is a living/learning community with a mission to nurture a sense of community for and support students who identify as Latina/o/x and/or CariVerticalBanner_LaComunidadIntelectual-156x300bbean or have an affinity to learn more about the Latino and/or Caribbean diasporas. LCI was born from the efforts of many current and former UConn staff and faculty, including Dr. Diana Rios, an associate professor in ELIN.

LCI supports students’ learning while empowering their engagement on the UConn campus and in our communities. First- and second-year students, this year totaling over 40, live together on the same floor in a residence hall on campus (Peter J. Werth Residence Tower), learn together in seminar courses, and are empowered to succeed at UConn and beyond.

The LCI Leadership is composed of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate student leaders. The current leadership team is Dr. H. Kenny Nienhusser, Faculty Director (Associate Professor and Program Coordinator, Higher Education and Student Affairs; Vanessa Esquivel, Graduate Assistant (PhD student, Human Development and Family Sciences), Catherina Villafuerte, Graduate Assistant (PhD student, Educational Leadership); Danielle (Dani) Jorge, Floor Mentor; Jason Valverde, Floor Mentor; and Emily Diaz, FYE Mentor.

An integral element of LCI is our four-part seminar course sequence offered each semester a student is enrolled in our living/learning community.

  • “Transitioning to UConn and LCI” (first-semester course; fall term). The course is designed to support students with their transition to and success at UConn. It also introduces students to LCI and issues that impact the Latina/o/x community at UConn and beyond.
  • “Surviving and Thriving” (second-semester course; spring term). This course focuses on empowering our Latina/o/x identities at a Historically/Predominantly White Institution (H/PWI). Students engage in weekly conversations surrounding the experiences of Latina/o/x students in colleges and universities. Students work on a semester-long group project designed to pave the way for the success of future LCI students.
  • “Contributing to our Comunidades” (third-semester course; fall term). Students engage in service-learning activities that contribute to our Latina/o/x communities near the Storrs UConn campus. In small groups, students work on a group project associated with their service-learning site.
  • “Thinking Ahead” (fourth-semester course; spring term) This course assists students in thinking about their goals post-LCI and post-UConn. Students participate in career and graduate school exploration, resume building, networking, and learn other skills to prepare them for their futures.

LCI works collaboratively with campus partners, including El Instituto (ELIN) and the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC). For example, in the “Transitioning to UConn & LCI” course, students are required to interview a faculty or affiliate faculty member of ELIN and to prepare a rich summary of that conversation.

Beyond academics, LCI students engage in programs and events to further develop their understandings of the Latino diaspora and have fun. A signature monthly event (#ThirdThursday) is an opportunity for all LCI members to connect, learn, and have fun. For example, during our September #ThirdThursday event we visited the exhibit “Immigrant Eyes: Photographs by Joe Standart” at The William Benton Museum of Art on campus.

To learn more about the beautiful LCI living/learning community see this video.


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