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NiLP Guest Commentary

The 12th Annual National Dominican Student Conference (NDSC)

By Marsha Ranieri

The NiLP Report

When my friend, Paulette Marte, the president of the Dominican Student club at New York University, told me about the National Dominican Student Conference (NDSC), I was immediately surprised and intrigued. The NDSC is in its 12th year and, given the growing expatriation of Latinos from urban communities to more suburban neighborhoods, it seems fitting that it is taking place in Manhattan this month at NYU on March 23-25.

This year our theme is "Bridging the Gap: Navigating Dominican and Dominican-American Identity." It addresses the inter-disciplinary understandings of our intersectional identities in their historic formation and the way they shape the present and future of our community.

When I first heard about the conference, I thought about my family members who are managing T-mobiles, have opened up grocery stores chains and own restaurants underneath the major subway lines that take you from Queens into Brooklyn. The fact is that Dominicans and Latinos more generally, are not always a talking point within the realms of professionalism, networking and training and development.

Each year, over 300 students and professionals attend the conference, and it is the second time NDSC has come to New York since 2008. It is a weekend-long event meant to foster dialogue through workshops and networking. Past conferences have been hosted by Yale, NYU, Cornell, Brown, Harvard, Babson and other colleges. Although the conference topics will cover issues that impact the Dominican community, the event is open to all professionals and allies who are interested in attending.

Panelists and speakers represent a wide range of professional fields and specializations. This year's speakers include New York State Supreme Court justice Rolando T. Acosta, the Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights Angela Fernandez and NBC producer Jacqueline Pou. Workshops will feature high-profile speakers, and cover blackness in the Caribbean, relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, transnationalism and identity, representation in media and mental health, which all tie to the overarching theme of "Bridging the Gap."

The educational focus on "Bridging the gap" means recognizing how the experience of identity differs based on generational differences, regionalism and transnationalism. It explores actively working to bridge the gap to come to a more complete cultural understanding.

What makes this year unique is also the fact that it's the first time NDSC will include a workshop on mental health. The stigmatization of mental health within communities of color has been a growing talking point that has been largely neglected in terms how this issue affects the lives of students and professionals.

Professional general admission includes access to an exclusive networking event, in which professionals can directly speak with conference panelists and speakers. Tickets are $20 for NYU students and $50 for non-NYU students. For further information and to register, click here.

We hope that by providing a safe space for dialogue, attendees can walk away with a newfound expanded professional network of individuals, but also, an understanding of how navigating identity is synonymous with personal and professional growth.

Marsha Ranieri is a senior at New York University working on her BA in Communications and Media Studies. She is a graduate of Fiorella La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Preforming Arts in Manhattan. A second-generation Latina born to a Dominican mother and an American father, she was born and raised in Queens, New York. She is interested in the themes of Latinx identity and representation, and is the social media chair for this year's National Dominican Student Conference hosted at NYU. A self-identified feminist, much of her work explores how Latinx culture influences notions of machismo, gender and sexuality. This would be her first published work. She can be reached at mmr523@nyu.edu.


The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to editor@latinopolicy.org.