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Fifth Bi-Annual Dominican Studies Conference Draws Scholars to NVCC

Coast-to-Coast presenters comment on the Dominican Experience and Cultural Diaspora

The 2014 Conference of the Dominican Studies Association (DSA), “Making a Difference…,”  was held at Naugatuck Valley Community College May 1-2, 2014. The bi-annual interdisciplinary conference draws hundreds of scholars and students to panel discussions that explore the multiple narratives documenting the Dominican experience and diaspora. 

Manhattan Deputy Borough President Aldrin Rafael Bonilla delivered this year's keynote address, sharing his experience growing up in Washington Heights, how it defined his perceptions of "Dominicanness," and how those cultural frameworks were challenged as a Capitol Hill intern, college student, husband and politician. Once told he wasn't "college material," Bonilla served as CUNY in the Heights’ first executive director, leading that organization from start-up phase to a robust satellite campus extension of Hostos Community College, Borough of Manhattan Community College and the State University of New York ATTAIN Technology Lab.

This year’s Conference honoree was Rafael A. Lantigua, M.D., colloquially known as “the people’s doctor” to Dominicans in the New York and New Jersey area. According to the DSA, Dr. Lantigua has “graciously refused numerous high-profile appointments, choosing instead to promote young, promising Dominicans into the public service and the private sectors.”

Founded by NVCC President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., in 1996 to promote and disseminate Dominican intellectual production, the Dominican Studies Association has hosted their bi-annual conference continuously at President De Filippis’ home institution. The event is supported through partnerships with NVCC, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, Hostos Community College and the Latino Artists Roundtable (LART). 

According to President De Filippis, the field of Dominican studies has grown tremendously since she first examined the topic. This year, essayists hailed from community colleges to Ivy League universities, extending as far geographically as the University of California and University of Houston.

“At the time that I defended my dissertation in the fall of 1983, it represented the first dissertation written by a Dominican-American on an aspect of Dominican literature,” said President De Filippis. “There are so many books and dissertations being written these days that I can rest assured that the area of studies has a bright future.”

For more information on the conference, visit:

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