CBA professor builds La Familia for Latinx students

September 25, 2023

Professor Gonzalez at Boston conference When Carlos B. González, a professor of management and human resources at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration, first started his doctoral studies, there were only two other Latinx students enrolled in his program: “It was quite isolating,” he said. He soon learned about the PhD Project, a nonprofit organization that encourages Black/African Americans, Latinx/Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans to pursue their doctorates in business. 

“The PhD Project allowed me to meet other people like me. It connected me with a community sharing similar experiences and backgrounds, helping me survive and complete my doctoral program,” said Professor González.

Professor González’s student experience is not unique: Research has shown that students who are underrepresented in postsecondary education experiences confront more barriers to success, including feelings of isolation, lack of mentors, and imposturous feelings, than their counterparts.

To help address these issues, in 2019, he, along with Professors Monica Gavino at San Jose State University and Patricia Martinez at Loyola Marymount University, launched the La Familia Management Scholars (La Familia). La Familia connects Latinx faculty and doctoral students in order to collaborate on research, develop teaching skills, and facilitate students’ success, by nurturing and providing support through culturally relevant mentorship programs.

Portrait of Carlos Gonzalez “Based on our mission, La Familia has focused on helping doctoral students and faculty survive in business schools. Our aim is to provide support for Latinx/Hispanic/Latin individuals in a way that cuts through the isolation and allows for growth and professional development,” said Professor González.

In 2021, the PhD Project put La Familia under the Commission on Hispanic Excellence (CHE), an initiative from the White House to increase the well-being and professional development of Latinx communities. By placing La Familia under CHE, the hope is to expand and create La Familia chapters within each of the business disciplines like accounting, information systems, finance, and marketing. This is a work in progress.

In its short life, La Familia has already made a difference by engaging in different activities such as providing Professional Development Workshops (PDWs) for faculty and doctoral students at the annual Academy of Management Meetings, and by providing opportunities for community building and organizing, during the La Familia “happy hours;”  held on the first Thursday of every month.

“During the happy hour, members from our community from all over the USA come to talk. The conversations are very light sometimes, but sometimes they are also very real and serious. We help participants to deal with dissertation committees, getting tenure, and other difficult situations. But we also meet and laugh and have a good time. The purpose is to build comunidad and provide an opportunity for community building and organizing,” Professor González explained.

When asked his advice to other first-generation Latinx students, he said: “Always have a good attitude, no matter how difficult things get, and always see problems as an enigma looking for solutions, have goals, lastly do not hesitate to ask look for help. ‘Si se puede’.”

To learn more about La Familia, email Professor González.

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