Susan Hua, who earned her PhD in Educational Administration (EDEA) from the UH Mānoa College of Education, is the Community College of Aurora’s (CCA) newly appointed Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the college’s first-ever cultural center.
As CCAʻs Title V College Readiness Program Manager, she has created programs for underrepresented students that focus on academic success, career preparedness, and personal identity development.
“I’ve always centered social justice and equity at the heart of my work; however, as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, I can do this work more directly with and have a wide-scale impact on the students,” Hua said.
CCA is a two-year, open-access institution in Aurora, Colorado. Often lauded as the most diverse city in Colorado, Aurora is home to refugees and immigrant families, and CCA’s student population reflects the various ethnicities that live in the surrounding communities.
“We are so proud of Susan and totally unsurprised that she has been chosen to lead this very important center designed to provide critical support for underrepresented students and to help the institution be more responsive to the communities it serves,” said Educational Administration Associate Professor Kahunawai Wright. “Her dissertation research on the relationship between language, identity, and college-going among Teochew people and her professional background in residence life and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives make her well-prepared for the work ahead.”
Hua’s own higher education journey spans several years across two U.S. coasts and Hawaiʻi. It was during her undergraduate studies at New York University where she found her passion for working with students as a resident assistant. She would go on to receive a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco where she learned about the intersection of social justice and education. Before coming to UH Mānoa where she was a residence director, she completed an internship at the University of California’s Asian Pacific American Student Development Center in Berkeley.
Now, working at a Hispanic Serving Institution, Hua says there are so many transferable practices from her time at the COE.
“I cannot thank the College of Education and the EDEA ‘ohana enough,” said Hua. “My time spent in the PhD program was truly transformative in thinking critically about higher education systems that create boundaries for BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) students. I was able to learn about what it means to center indigenous voices and how to honor indigeneity, history, and culture in and out of the classroom. I want to thank the EDEA members of my dissertation committee, Dr. Chris Lucas and Dr. Nicole Reyes; my dissertation chair, Dr. Kahunawai Wright; and Marilou Matsuura, who all cultivated a strong sense of belonging in the program. They are all truly the epitome of practice, compassion, and support in higher education.”