By now, most of the campus community knows President Hubert Benitez enjoys gathering around a table and sharing a meal to build community. On Friday, April 28, Dr. Benitez met during a luncheon in the Griswold Theatre lobby with Pacific Islanders students in an early start to Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month, celebrated in May. The group of just under twenty included students from California, Utah, Guam, Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Hawaii, and the Chuuk Islands in Micronesia, many of whom are players on the Men’s Rugby team.
This was the third time since becoming the College president a year ago that Benitez has participated in a luncheon with first-generation students through the AIC Core Education (ACE) program led by Director of Student Support Services Terrence O’Neill. The first gathering was for Latina students, and the second was for Black student leaders. Each time, Benitez had a dialogue with the students to hear about their experiences at AIC. He was eager for the Pacific Islander students to share their culture. “Seeing you all together is a blessing for this institution,” he told them.
Kekoa Tenorio-Toves, a sophomore from Guam, came to AIC in 2021, earning a rugby scholarship to play for the Yellow Jackets. Tenorio-Toves shared that the Springfield area is quite different from his home, especially the weather. He also mentioned that there is not as much diversity in the Springfield community as in Guam. But, he added, that is not the case at AIC, where he has met students from many countries throughout the world. And that makes him feel more at home.