Vanessa Gomez stepped into the new role of Athletic Liaison for the Bridge Center for Intercultural Development. This is a new position within the Bridge Center, Vanessa has the unique opportunity to develop the role and lay the foundations for future athletic liaisons. Vanessa expressed many hopes and goals for this position and a true passion for seeing them out.
She is committed to the improvement of the cultural competence and intelligence of NWC’s community through its student athletes who make up around 60% of the campus population. She also hopes to work alongside the coaches with the goal of improving their cultural competence.
“[Vanessa has] really taken ownership of [the position] and done an amazing job of developing what it means to be an athletic liaison,” said Martha Draayer, director of intercultural development.
Vanessa plans to meet with each athletic team’s coaches, captains and minority students to learn about the specific cultural needs of each team and to discuss potential areas for growth in cultural intelligence and integration from the viewpoints of both the athletes and the coaches.
“The goal is to implement programming that is tailored to each individual team on campus,” stated Vanessa. She hopes to complete all the initial programming during the fall semester and follow up with each team in the spring.
“I think the biggest challenge is going to be getting athletes to be vulnerable… [because being] willing to say, ‘I’ve done that, and I need to be better’ is a scary thing,” said Vanessa.
Vanessa hopes to see conversations and change taking place and a more open atmosphere on campus due to people being more self-aware about what they are saying and how they are acting. She explains that constantly being self-aware and accountable for what we are saying “sounds exhausting, but words have meaning, and words have weight; they stick with people whether we think they do or not.”
Vanessa hopes to live out her position daily by being “that person who is going to do exactly what they’re asking other people to do…if I’m not living that out then I have no right to go to the teams and say, ‘you should be doing this.’”
She explained that her goal as athletic liaison for the Bridge Center is to create an inviting and safe space for athletes and coaches to learn and grow. Her goal as a Bridge Center intern is to encourage everyone on campus, to learn from one another, hold each other accountable and work toward building a safer, inviting atmosphere on NW’s campus.