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October 14, 2022

DEI Director at Holy Angels Builds Community Via ‘Café con Leche’

 During Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, and again in 2022, Academy of the Holy Angels Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Danielle Holmes (AHA ’03) has hosted Café con Leche. This college-style program is a relaxed opportunity for Hispanic and Latinx students, faculty, and staff to network and connect.


“Café con Leche, which is Spanish for coffee with milk, is a program that happens at various colleges and universities to connect colleagues, students, and staff of Hispanic and Latinx descent,” Holmes explained. “I wanted to bring this to the Academy to aid in building community as well as celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 through October 15, 2022).”


Holmes invited students to join her under the tent near the AHA peace pole on a gorgeous early October morning. She and faculty members Carmín Torres-Fontanez, Andrew Sanchez, and AnneMarie Ryan offered guests delectable Colombian baked goods, including pan de bono, buñuelos pequeños, and empanadas.


Each Angel had the opportunity to sit down to talk with peers, faculty, and staff members, including Beatriz Montes and Luis Mendoza. Students said they and their families hail from Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Colombia, and beyond. Several Angels who attended the program are not Hispanic, but said they came to support friends and sample the food from Colombia.


I think this is important as building community and connections are paramount for students from an underrepresented population within an educational environment,” Holmes said of Café con Leche. “Building stronger connections to staff and faculty they can identify with can aid with an increasing sense of belonging here. This is also another way to actively engage in Hispanic Heritage Month.”


At the college level, regular Café con Leche sessions offer support for students on their way toward their degrees and career goals, and provide an opportunity for students to ask questions and have their voices heard.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.