LaToya Beck is part of my circle from our time working together in Hamline University’s Residential Life. As my supervisor during my last year at Hamline, our work was a big part of my college experience. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but that was an influential year for me. I was glad to have LaToya in my life at that time.

LaToya is caring, invested in our global community, strong, thoughtful and brilliant.

My final year at Hamline, I was an Assistant Area Coordinator (essentially, an assistant hall director for a two-building area).  LaToya was the Area Coordinator - my supervisor. Being an AAC was my first experience in a housing role - I was never an RA - and, my first actual semi-professional position in Student Affairs. It was a wonderful experience! LaToya, along with the other Residential Life staff including our great RAs, made it a really special year in my life.

I loved working for LaToya. We were an interesting duo! Her often no-nonsense attitude with my perkier, sometimes sugar & spice way of dealing with things seemed opposite but fit quite well together.  

Although she’s worked in higher education for seven years, LaToya wasn’t the typical Student Affairs-y type. Don’t get me wrong – I love my Student Affairs folks – but there was always so much more to LaToya. The idea that, yes, the work we are doing is valuable and important, but so are many other important things to consider.  Diversity and connection to culture was always a big part of our area - from the programs we pubbed to the multiple identities of our beautiful staff members. LaToya was also a strong advocate for international students and students with marginalized identities.

Beyond being my supervisor, I admire LaToya’s scholarly work. My undergraduate majors were German and Global Studies. Years previous, LaToya had graduated from Hamline with similar areas of concentration. She also studied at University of California Berkeley. While at Hamline, Latoya taught Anthropology courses. And, later at Carleton College, she taught Anthropology and African American Studies. As a guest speaker in some of my global studies classes, I was always impressed with how she talked about complex concepts in an approachable, conversational way.  She has my favorite combination of academic smarts and realness.

Recently, LaToya moved out of higher education and she assumed a position with the federal government working with asylum and refugee seekers. She says her work is full of challenges as she must weigh the needs of individuals seeking humanitarian assistance and protection against the interests of the country.

Every day, she listens to people tell her about the horrible things that have happened to them in their country of origins and conducts research on instances of human rights violations around the world. What she loves most about her work is being reminded of the resilience of the human spirit. People who have survived the most horrifying circumstances often come out of it okay the other side. Wow, what important work LaToya is doing!

I also love seeing LaToya’s travels and excitements through Facebook. She always does a great job of documenting her travels! Since we worked together, LaToya has been an inspiring woman in my life. Although we don’t keep in very close touch, I remember our year together at Hamline fondly.  That year was full of a lot of growth and change for me.  I certainly feel that LaToya has had an influence on who I have become– personally and professionally.

Read about LaToya’s inspirations and advice below. . .

What inspires you?

“I am inspired by art and the beauty of the human spirit that produces these great works. I am moved by music. It inspires my creative spirit and speaks to my consciousness. On a good day, music reinforces my feelings of greatness and gratitude. On a bad day, music reminds me that though there is ugliness in the world, light almost always overcomes darkness.”

Who are women in your life or throughout history that have inspired you?

“I am inspired by the strength and courage of the women in my family. They are at peace with their humanity. They are sisters of the dust who have overcoming major obstacles, but have remained resilient. These sisters embrace a thought process that allows them to bounce back from obstacles. They are from where my strength comes.”

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?”

“Be fearless! During my younger days I spent so much time being afraid. As I grow wiser, I've made a promise to myself to not let fear hinder my pursuit of my aspirations. I accept and expect failure and use these misfortunes as opportunities to grow and come back better and stronger.”

This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!