Photo courtesy Claudia Ortiz
Northeastern graduate school alum Claudia Ortiz was named a 2019 Latina Leader at the Inter(x) Latina Storyteller conference held March 29 in honor of Women’s History Month.
Ortiz is the assistant director of international admissions at MassBay Community College, or MassBay, where she provides support for international and immigrant students.
Ortiz completed her master’s degree in global studies and international relations at NU in 2018. She said Northeastern’s LaCLA Scholarship, sponsored by the Latinx Student Cultural Center, helped her realize her ambition to work with international students in higher education.
“It really helped me to affirm what I wanted — that I wanted to be in the international field. To help and to assist international students,” Ortiz said.
The award was part of an initiative created by the Latina Circle, a Boston-based coalition formed to advance Latina representation in leadership positions. The initiative, called Amplify Latinx, recognized 11 women working in areas such as improving higher education and sheltering the homeless.
She was nominated for the award by Marion Davis, the communications director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or MIRA. Ortiz regularly collaborates with MIRA to assist students who are undocumented immigrants protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Davis said many immigrant students temporarily protected under DACA have concerns about their future due to uncertainty surrounding the policy.
“That’s a lot of insecurity and instability to live with,” Davis said. “So having somebody like Claudia is really valuable because she’s always there for them, and she’s always willing to provide support and provide advice.”
Emmanuelle Dejeanlouis, a sophomore at MassBay living under Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, said Ortiz helps undocumented, DACA and TPS students find ways to afford tuition and connect with each other.
“I’ve met a number of students that I would have never met if not for Claudia, and I have built relationships with them,” Dejeanlouis said. “Without her, we would never even know each other or have the inspiration to share our stories.”
Ortiz moved from Guatemala to New York City at 17 years old to attend community college. She said she finds her work meaningful because she did not have a mentor to guide her through college.
After moving to Boston with her husband, Ortiz learned about Northeastern. She said attending NU opened a lot of doors when applying for jobs.
“Northeastern has been fundamental on my journey, and really where I am right now to be honest,” Ortiz said. “A lot of my students, that’s their dream, you know — to be enrolled at Northeastern. So I had the opportunity to share my experience.”
Davis said Ortiz is known at MassBay as the person who really cares about the success of the students.
“It became very clear to me from the start that Claudia had very much become … the mentor, the protector, the go-to person for immigrant students at MassBay,” she said.
Betty Francisco, a co-founder of the Latina Circle and an NU School of Law alum, said visibility campaigns like this “bring Latinx people out of the woodwork.”
“What it shows you is that, by giving someone this kind of recognition and showing what they’re doing … it brings for a kind of attention that helps promote them into other things,” Francisco said.