2023 AAHHE National Conference

La Lucha Sigue: Refusal, Resistance, and Praxis at Critical Junctures
College of Southern Nevada, North Las Vegas
March 1-3, 2023


Pre-conference Events


 AAHHE ETS Latina/o/x Student Success Institute 

Unspoken Realities of Undocumented Latina/o/x students with and without DACA status: Creating Awareness and Action through Policies, Programs, Practices, and Politics

Speakers: Luis Ponjuan, PhD, Edith Fernandez, PhD, & Cinthya Salazar, PhD

March 1, 2023, 8am-1pm PST
In-person pre-conference session
Maximum participants: 50

Sponsored by ETS

Institute Summary

In 2022, we celebrated the decade anniversary (June 15, 2012) of the unprecedented DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) executive order which provided children of unauthorized foreign immigrant parents to have certain protections. Scholars of DACA “Dreamer” students have found that these students achieved academic success under these protections. In addition, other scholars have examined a similar group of students who are described as Undocumented students who are not protected by the DACA executive order. There are unspoken realities of Latina/o/x undocumented students with and without DACA status must endure on their pathway to a postsecondary credential and/or degree. There is a greater need to highlight and understand how these students face unique and ongoing challenges that are often not known or addressed by administrators, faculty members, or professional staff.  The theme of the AAHHE 2023 conference, La Lucha sigue (the struggle continues), provides the lens on how higher education leaders and scholars must use compassion, grace, and comfort to understand the unique academic, social, well-being of this growing sector of Latina/o/x students. Despite the political rancor and the uncertainty of immigrant policies, the AAHHE philosophical foundation compels educational leaders, faculty members, and professional staff to develop purposeful and intentional policies, programs, and practices to assist and support undocumented Latina/o/x students with and without DACA status in community colleges and four-year institutions.  


The purpose of the AAHHE 2023 Latina/o/x Student Success Institute is to create a safe space for higher education leaders to learn about current research from national and prominent scholars, to ask important questions, and to develop professional connections. We will have a specific focus on college enrollment and persistence of Latina/o/x undocumented students with and without DACA status. This highly interactive institute will inspire, educate, and empower leaders, faculty members, and professional staff to return to their campus with new questions, ideas, and action steps to move this agenda forward.

2023 Latina/o/x Student Success Institute Agenda 

  • Introduction and Welcome: Dr. Luis Ponjuán
  • Session I: Creating an asset-based narrative about undocumented Latina/o/x students with and without DACA status: Dr. Luis Ponjuán
  • Session I Facilitator: Dr. Luis Ponjuan
  • KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Cinthya Salazar, former 2022 AAHHE Faculty Fellow
  • Keynote Facilitator: Dr. Cinthya Salazar
  • Session II: THEORY TO PRACTICE SESSION: Dr. Edith Fernández
  • Session II Facilitator: Dr. Edith Fernández
  • Final Thoughts and Reflections: Dr. Luis Ponjuán & Dr. Edith Fernández

AAHHE Community College Summit

La Lucha Sigue: Honoring and Recognizing the Unique Role of Community Colleges

March 1, 2023, 8am-1pm PST
In-person pre-conference session
Maximum Participants: 50

The AAHHE Community College Summit will focus and highlight the role that community colleges, like this year’s conference host, The College of Southern Nevada, play in (1) serving as entry points to postsecondary education and pathways to bachelors and graduate degrees; (2) how they partner with the business community to provide high quality workforce development that leads to high paying careers; (3) how they serve as economic drivers and hubs of innovation for the communities and regions they serve. The summit will also feature key public policy leaders to discuss the strengths and limitations of policy interventions and ways to strengthen the postsecondary and public policy links.

The summit is designed for staff and administrator, and business and policy leaders, focused on recruitment, retention, and increasing student success at both the high school, college, and university level.

Summit sessions will focus on:

  • Community college two-year to four-year pathways
  • Community college business and community partnerships -- impact on regional economic development and innovation
  • Postsecondary policy impacts on increasing access, equity, and success for underrepresented student populations

*All sessions will include a roundtable to facilitate participant networking and discussion.


Audrey Baca Lopez, Ed.D., Community College Summit Co-chair, Assistant Professor of English, Mt. San Jacinto College

Clarissa Cota, J.D., Community College Summit Co-chair; Vice President, North Las Vegas Campus

Magdalena Martinez, Ph.D., Community College Summit Co-chair; Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy and Leadership, College of Urban Affairs & Director of Education Programs with The Lincy Institute, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Patrick L. Valdez, Ph.D., Community College Summit Co-chair; AAHHE Board Chair; Visiting Professor, College of Education & Program Chair, Senior Diversity Officer Certificate Program, University of Kentucky