This week, we interviewed Maurisa Li-A-Ping (she/her/hers), the Coordinator of First-Year & Sophomore Programs at the Brown Center for Students of Color. Maurisa is from Brooklyn, NY but believes home is where you make it. Read more below:

How are you? How’s your year going so far?
My year has been really exciting. I got to launch my new program, radical FOUNDATIONS, which is a first-year program/cohort for students of color looking to do groundwork within themselves. My thought is, I want to help you see the light within yourself and help you thrive here. If there are skills you want to learn, let me help connect you to them.

This is my second year here. The first year of my job was observant. By the second year, I feel confident I can do something. I’ve really been working with the BCSC media team. I think the BCSC has a rich history but I want people to know the people who work here. I think people connect better to people versus an idea. People want to see themselves – they want to hear their stories. Social media can be really toxic but it can also be a really great way to connect people.

How do you see the programming at the BCSC in conversation with the UFLi Center? How have collaborations come about?
There are intersections between undocumented, first-generation, low income folks and folks of color. The work of it on paper shows our centers overlap because of intersectional identities. Because I am a first-generation, low-income, person of color and I come from a family of immigrants, I’m very interested in that intersection. I think what makes the work easier is when you get to know the people.

Yes, the UFLi Center has great values and the BCSC has great values. But when I got here, I built relationships with Julio and Renata. On paper our work is connected but it’s also about the way we live our lives. Yes, you can say you’re all for this but how are you living your life at the end of the day? That’s what’s really hard. 

Any collaborations coming up?
Myself, Julio, and Renata are presenting in New Orleans. The event is hosted by NASPA. It’s a student affairs association. Part of their theme this year is advancing equity and inclusive practice. Basically, me, Renata, and Julio have thought about our equity-asset based (EAB) approach. We’ve done some really great work around EAB and want to share that with our communities, whether radical FOUNDATIONS, FLiSP, UFLi, or just scholars among us. We want to highlight some of the best practices we have cultivated and the ways in which we bring in the EAB approach.

The FLiSP Scholars and radical FOUNDATIONS cohort members are also having a Providence outing together. Part of the values of radical FOUNDATIONS and FLiSP is to get students engaged to the larger Providence community. We want to get them off the hill and show them there’s so much more than Brown. What does it mean to honor the land and space to explore community in a helpful way and not exploitative way? We’ll be going to dinner at a POC-owned restaurant. Then, thinking about how art cultivates community, we want to show there are lots of folks to be in community with if folks are looking to venture outside of Brown. We’ll be taking them to Trinity Rep. 

We have another collaboration with the BCSC as a whole and the UFLi Center. Me and Olivia are going to bring our experiences in about redefining resistance at the intersection of these identities. We want to redefine what resistance looks like. You don’t always have to be showing up at rallies, protests, sit-ins. There are so many different ways to resist and so much capital we have when we enter spaces. We really want students to see the assets they bring and show them that naming those and using them can be a form of resistance.

Something you’re looking forward to?
I was talking to my friend and realized that once I graduated from graduate school, I was really tired. I had been working at such an exponentially high rate for the last 4 to 6 years that I stopped doing the things I love in a very active way. I’m excited to get back into poetry, to be performing, doing workshops and trainings for different universities and organizations. It’s something I used to do a bit more but I think I needed some time to breathe and enjoy life after all the hard work I’ve been putting in the last few years. I want to do workshops with folks, to get back out there, and be in community around different practices.