Dr. Vega presenting his dissertation to students and faculty.
The College of Education and Human Services proudly invited Michael Vega, Ph.D., M.S.W. to share his dissertation research, "Hombres y Hermandad: Men and Brotherhood – Exploring the Role of Fraternity Involvement on Latino Masculinity Identity in College."
Dr. Michael Vega earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy in 2020 from Seton Hall. His research focused on the identity development of Latinx college and first-generation students, and how higher education institutions can be more intentional about improving the retention, persistence, and success of these populations. Currently, Dr. Vega serves as the Assistant Dean for Student Services and Alumni Affairs at the Rutgers School of Public Health.
Dr. Vega's dissertation was a qualitative study exploring whether being involved in a fraternity influences the masculine identity of Latino college students. He explained the meanings of Latino masculinity from a cultural aspect, why he chose to focus on fraternities, the purpose and significance of his study, and what needs to happen next. This session provided insight into some of the difficulties experienced within the Latino community in relation to education and identity and how organizational structures such as fraternities address these issues.
When asked about the event, Dr. Vega said, "It was meaningful for me to have the opportunity to share my passion for higher education and represent my culture while doing so in this arena. It was a sort of full circle moment for me because as a student I would attend some of these talks from alumni, but I never saw someone who looked like me presenting or in a position of expertise. So, to be able to be that for other students through my presentation now as an alum, an instructor, and dissertation mentor for the ELMP program, helps me feel like I am doing something to advance the next generation of Latinx and underrepresented higher ed researchers and leaders."
Attendees of the event were intrigued by his findings and were eager to ask questions and show their appreciation for his study. Priscilla Burke, a graduate student who attend the event said, "Dr. Vega's presentation of Hombres y Hermandad was thought-provoking and engaging. Dr. Vega took us on a journey of understanding Latino masculinity and thoughts of identity when joining a fraternity. This brings to question why PWIs are not doing enough in the 21st century to engage men of color beyond the classroom. If the only way Latino men find their sense of belonging on campus is through Greek life, PWIs are failing their Latino students. PWIs should give immense recognition and support to Greek organizations for retaining their students of color." Elda Hernandez, an academic advisor for the College of Nursing found Dr. Vega's work both fascinating and exciting: "Learning about the Latinx male experience in higher education is rare and much needed. Dr. Vega demonstrated care, passion, and expertise in this subject which helped captivate his audience. I look forward to learning more about his work in the future."
The College of Education and Human Services is dedicated to ensuring that its professional preparation programs and events are continually developing the knowledge, skills, competencies, and moral and ethical values necessary for outstanding performance in teaching, educational leadership, and professional psychology and family therapy. It looks forward to continuing the tradition of inviting alum back to educate, mentor, network with, and support students to meet the needs of the communities they serve/will serve.