Miami, FL, Monday, December, 11th 2023. Medical anesthesiologist graduated with honors, military for ten years, holder of a Ph.D. in Public Health and Leadership, and immigrant—this is how Dr. Norma Pastor, Dean of the Latin Division at Keiser University, described herself during her presentation at the First Interuniversity Conference on Youth, Education, and Research, held from December 5th to 8th at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
In her presentation titled ‘Education, Youth, and Research: Driving Social Mobility for Hispanics in the United States,’ Dr. Pastor highlighted the economic and linguistic barriers Spanish-speaking students face when accessing education in the United States, diminishing their opportunities to receive a quality education. She emphasized that ‘the aim of education should be social mobility for individuals; knowledge alone is not sufficient unless it can be put into practice.”
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Dra. Pastor shared that upon arriving in the United States, she encountered much misinformation regarding validating her grades, continuing her studies, and securing employment. Two years later, she had the first opportunity to teach at a technical college, where her passion for education blossomed. Eventually, she applied for a position as an instructor at Keiser University, embarking on a journey filled with academic and professional successes that have led her to lead one of the university’s most important sectors: the Latin Division.
As the Dean of the Latin Division, she feels deeply connected to her community. She has dedicated herself to providing the help and guidance she did not receive upon arriving in the United States. ‘I came representing the Hispanic Community, specifically from Keiser University, Latin Division. At Keiser University, we are committed to achieving social mobility for Hispanics and empowering our community to reach its goals and objectives. As the Dean, I can witness the challenges faced by Hispanics, the obstacles they encounter, and the misinformation among newly arrived youth,’ she emphasized during her participation.
This First Interuniversity Conference on Youth, Education, and Research at the UN is a space for reflection for universities and scholars on the role of youth in education. Dr. Pastor highlighted that academic institutions could make a difference in the lives of the Hispanic population in the United States. She mentioned that Keiser University has fully developed online higher education programs entirely in Spanish, ranging from associate programs to a Ph.D., empowering the Hispanic population to prepare while learning English and entering the workforce.
Her goal is to continue building a solid bridge between the educational aspirations of the Hispanic community and real access to quality education. In her words, ‘Youth is our driving force for change, not only in the present but also in the future. If we want to see where we will be in the future, we must observe what we are educating; we must look at the product we are offering our students in terms of higher education.'»