LACS is proud to announce that our very own Alana Rodríguez has been recognized with the LSA Rising Star Award for the Humanities division for her exceptional contributions to LACS and the University. The Rising Star Award is an annual award designed to honor an individual staff member with no more than three years of service in LSA who has made outstanding contributions that go beyond the ordinary fulfillment of the position’s duties. Alana richly deserves this recognition and honor, for the reasons described below.

We were very fortunate when Alana joined LACS in January of 2017, moving to Ann Arbor from southern California to take on her current position. She hit the ground running, and in the two past years she has become the indisputable heart and soul of the Center where her centrality to the work of LACS takes multiple forms.  Most visibly, Alana is the point person for nearly everything the Center does: the engaging and warm personality who interacts with all those who come to or contact LACS for events or information, from students, to faculty, to international scholars, and who represents LACS beyond the campus, such as when she hosts and visits local schools to talk about Latin America, runs our annual symposium at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), presents her research on Cuba to UM Alumni in Havana, or works with our partners in San Diego and Tijuana in creating a cross-border teacher training program focused on global migration.  She is not simply able to communicate effectively in multiple languages with students, faculty and visitors from the diverse countries and cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean, but she does so with such enthusiasm, intelligence, humor and compassion that visitors regularly express to us their unbridled enthusiasm for her as a professional and as a person, and almost all of them quickly come to consider her a real friend. Alana’s performance has been superlative in all areas and she has brought new dynamism and interests to LACS and the International Institute (II).

She is also the central figure behind the scenes, the person who expertly manages and administers all LACS activities, organizing a plethora of national and international speakers, conferences, outreach events, student activities, and more, while also managing complex, multi-year federal and private grants, submitting regular reports on our spending and generally ensuring that we steward these funds with integrity and accountability.  Not only does she understand the intricacies of these enormously complex grants, she has also shown herself to be a highly skilled grant writer, as she went well beyond the expectations of her position to write the bulk of the grant proposals that earned these funds.  Thanks to her, in 2018 LACS was awarded $45,000 from the Tinker Foundation, which was doubled by matching funds from the II and Rackham Graduate School, and $1,820,000 from the Department of Education, Title VI.  This latter undertaking was an especially remarkable accomplishment given the very fierce competition for these grants, and she devoted countless late-night and weekend hours to this endeavor. 

Finally, we must add that in addition to this critical behind-the-scenes implementation and funding support, Alana is also a central innovator and creative force who helps define LACS’ areas of engagement, such as designing a speaker series on globally-engaged careers, developing new teacher training workshops and initiating collaborations with minority-serving institutions.  Indeed, alongside her general positivity, kindness, and ethos of inclusion, Alana brings real intellectual muscle, solid judgment and creative innovation to her job. 

Together with the other recipients of the LSA staff awards, Alana will be formally recognized at a ceremony on Thursday, May 23, 2019, from 10 – 11:30 a.m. at Rackham Auditorium. All are welcome to join!

— Kate Jenckes, LACS Interim Director