The first director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Undocumented Student Success Center (USSC), Jairo Leon, plans to amplify the undocumented experience on campus.
“That means advocating and creating and building upon the programs and services available to them,” said Leon, who joined the Coyote family on Jan. 31.
Leon emphasizes that the USSC is a safe space for undocumented students and provides various resources and support services for them, but he also invites the entire campus community to check out the center.
“I know part of my responsibility is not just to provide direct services for undocumented students, but also provide educational opportunities for the entire campus, so that folks can understand what it means to be undocumented in America, what it means to be an undocumented student at San Bernardino specifically,” he said.
Leon learned the power of education at an early age from his parents, which inspired him to work in higher education.
“I come from an immigrant family, and for us, education was always emphasized as a pathway to a better life and better opportunities,” he said. “So while my parents didn’t have the opportunity to attend college themselves, they knew the power and opportunity of education.”
Prior to his appointment at CSUSB, Leon held positions at multiple institutions, including the University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Berkeley; San Diego State University; and Cornell University.
From 2017-2020, Leon served as co-chair of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Undocumented Immigrants and Allies Knowledge Community. As co-chair, he convened staff and faculty from across the country to exchange knowledge and strategies that foster the academic success of undocumented students.
Leon earned his bachelor’s degree in literature and writing from Cal State San Marcos and his Master of Education from UCLA’s School of Education and Information Studies.