Elias Quinonez, Manager of Student Life and Diversity at the College of Agricultural Sciences, comes to CSU from Greeley, Colorado, where he was born and raised.
As the Manager of Student Life and Diversity, Quinonez embodies inclusivity. His door remains open to students, faculty, staff, and the CSU community at large.
“There's a great need here [at CSU]. And the need I see are two worlds with genuinely good people. Good people, yet sometimes they are not seeing the other’s story. There could be some work done in regards to diversity and inclusivity, specifically with diversity in regards to numbers in agriculture.
It didn't make sense to me, especially coming from a Latino community, where the only reason I'm in northern Colorado in the first place is that my parents came here for farm labor back in the 50s. That's the only reason we knew of Greeley, Colorado to be on the map. That's what I've experienced in my community, the farm labor, and the role that Latinos and other races have played in agriculture. From that aspect, I see a critical role for farmers to have this labor. It's necessary for us to have the food on our tables and in the grocery stores - but it wasn't making sense to me that I wasn’t seeing representation at a level to believe I could get a degree in agriculture to do something that my family has been in decades. Or, to even be passionate about horses or large animals, or agriculture or sustainable living, and yet to not see it here at the college.
There was a huge message being lost there. There's a huge demographic of people whose stories are not being told. Asian-American, African-American, Latino people – they’re all part of Colorado’s history. Let's show it on our walls, let's show it in our monuments.
We're not talking about a lot of people in our community, and we’ve not given them an opportunity to share their stories, either. If our theme as a college is ‘Come to The Table,’ we will have room for everyone around the table, but not only to just have a chair. It's to allow them to share their stories, and vice versa. The reason there is so much energy being spent around diversity and inclusion is that's where the greatest need is. It's no shocker to say that CSU is a predominantly white institution. It’s also not shocking to say that the College of Ag is predominantly white. There's a large population of people that deserve to follow their dreams and their passions, that deserve the quality of education that we're offering, and deserve to share their story and their legacy - and to hold that story proudly and not to have it watered down or erased. Agriculture has historically been the foundation of so many ethnic backgrounds and cultures, so let’s bring them to the table.”