By Steven Adamo
Umoja coordinator Nicole Flores was awarded the Dedicated Leadership Award along with ELAC Allied Health Department Chair Monica Thurston by the Los Angeles Community College District and Black Faculty and Staff Association at the Black History Month Celebration Mixer in late February.
At the ceremony, ELAC Men’s Basketball Coach and Kinesiology Professor John Mosley also won the Community GrassRoots Leadership Award.
Flores is no stranger to ELAC, having been a student, secretary for the Child, Family and Education Studies Department and since July of last year, coordinator of the Umoja office.
In 2018, Flores was involved with Laquita M. Jones, assistant professor of Sociology at ELAC, in restarting the Black Student Union on campus prior to the pandemic. However, now that students are back on campus, Flores hopes that this restarts interest and allows further expansion.
Flores said that the Umoja program at ELAC is aiming to offer one or two cohort classes next Fall semester for students, with possibly classes available during the Summer.
When it comes to her work with the Umoja office, Flores is proud of the fact that it services not only the Black students on campus, but is multiracial. “That’s something that I am proud of, that I made it a safe space for everyone, not just for one group.”
With Umoja, Flores manages the programming and assists students through some of the hurdles that occur on campus. As the office moves into a new location with more space next month, Flores is working toward improving the space and promoting Umoja values on campus.
Having more counselors available to students involved with the Umoja program is one of the goals for the future. “From the president down to my dean, everyone has been pretty supportive,” Flores said.