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César Chávez Cultural Center 35th Anniversary: Interview with Dr. Frank Lucero

Marko Corona, Graduate Intern
August 26, 2020

"A Legacy of Paying it Forward"

Former Directors Series

Interview with Dr. Frank Lucero (served 1985-1991)

MARKO: Tell us alittle bit about your experience paying it forward.

DR. FRANK LUCERO: When I was an undergrad at UNC, I was fortunate enough to be able to get to know some professors, Chicanos, Latinos who mentored us and took us by the hand. Who led us and helped us through the process, and I think that’s what we did at the Center. We mentored, we did hand holding, we did some tear drying and we hopefully taught people how to get through the system, the policies. Sometimes we get policies changed, I would hope that that continues, and I’d hope that that has continued throughout the lives of the students I had when I was at UNC. For practice purposes, for the most part I know that it has. I kept up with most of those students. I have students who were in the program at that time who are attorneys, who have PhD’s, Master’s degrees or Bachelor’s degrees, who are business people, who are in the Health and Human Sciences, who are educators, a wide variety of people who I kept up with and they’ve done well. They have learned to get through the process and have learned to teach other people to get through the process. How to walk through the process and how to ask the right questions, so that people treat you with respect and dignity so you have a sense of respect and dignity based on how you walk, talk and by the way that you carry yourself.

MARKO: Please give us your name and tell us where are you from?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: My name is Frank Lucero and I reside today in Thornton, Co.

MARKO: Are you an alumnus of UNC and if you are, what did you major/minor in? Do you have other degrees and what institutions are they from?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: My bachelor’s degree was from UNC in Extended Social Science. My Master’s degree is from UNC and I got it in Educational Administration.

MARKO: How long did you serve as César Chávez Cultural Center Director?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: I served as director for 6 years from September 1985 to about July of 1991.

MARKO: How would you describe your role and the challenges presented to you there?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: Well, being the first, the role was kind of ambiguous at the beginning. There were lots of people who had ideas about what the center ought to be doing. They weren’t responsible to the center, they weren’t in advisory boards or anything like that, but they had ideas about what the center ought to be doing. But what I did initially is I did a literature review based on the goals of the center how they were described to me when I first applied. The goals of the center when I started was the recruitment of Latinos or Hispanics, retention of those students, and program completion for those students. And so I did a literature review on those areas and came up with a strategic plan that took about a year and a half to implement. It was implemented and pretty successful. So my job was to do the initial research, then to hire people who could accomplish some roles that we had discovered as I went through the literature review and then some message to track everybody’s activities.

MARKO: What is the grounding value/belief that helped guide your work there?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: I wanted for many Latinos to have the same experience that I had. I came from a really poor family; I was the first person in my family to go to college. I was a first-generation college student, I was first person to graduate and I was the first person to get a Master’s or a Doctorate degree. So, I hoped to open up those avenues for other students from all of Colorado and beyond.

MARKO: What would you like to share regarding that period of time in your life?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: We achieved goals, and we did some pretty courageous things; myself as well as the staff, the students who worked there. We developed some things, some areas that people later on or at that time were thinking that similar departments ought to be doing. For example, we developed a program called Bright Futures, where we went into schools throughout Weld County and tutored students and then recruited them to UNC. We developed a newspaper called Hispanic Horizons that was distributed to all of Alumni from the university within the state of Colorado. Those programs, Bright Futures was so successful the Department of Education wanted it and they took it after I left. Then the newspaper Hispanic Horizons, the department of communications wanted it so I guess they took it after I left as well. So apparently, they were good programs, because then why would they want them?

MARKO: What was your proudest moment/accomplishment/memory of your time there?

DR. FRANK LUCERO: Watching students be successful and graduating. I don’t think there was one time; there were many times because I got the opportunity to watch many of them and graduations. I got the opportunity to watch some of them graduate from law school, some of them graduate with their PhD and so on. But certainly, to get through the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree was heartwarming. That’s probably what it was all about. You know? Helping students to get through that first run of bachelor’s degree.

 Cesar Chavez Cultural Center 35 year anniversary

Celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the César Chávez Cultural Center
Thursday, September 3rd