By: Damon Markiewicz
Springfield College Professor of Social Work Miguel L. Arce officially unveiled his year-long project as part of his appointment as the 2023-24 Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics. Arce’s mission is to raise awareness about segregation and its impact on the well-being of local Latina/o children and their families in Springfield and surrounding communities in Western Massachusetts.
“It’s a privilege to represent a population that is clearly under served,” explained Arce. “I feel a sense of duty and loyalty, and it’s an honor to serve as the Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics this year.”
Arce’s project is rooted in our Humanics philosophy, and it not only seeks to promote awareness about inequities based on segregation and poverty, but it also highlights proposed solutions. The highlight event of his year-long work will occur on March 13, 2024 when a conference will be hosted at Springfield College titled “Fostering Equity and Inclusion for Latinas/os in Child and Family Welfare.”
The goals of the conference will be to bring together an interdisciplinary team of academic, organizational, elected officials, families with lived experiences, and community-based organizations, to provide leadership in the identification of targeted solutions to systemic problems affecting the Latino family at varying points across the child welfare continuum.
“My work uses a process that includes engagement, assessment, and intervention,” added Arce. “A good education can transform lives. I ask that participants don’t just see themselves as leaders, but also as servants as part of this project.”
Trained as a social worker, Arce has spent 45 years in communities with few economic resources. Those communities have been set apart by society in either isolated rural areas with Native Americans, Filopino Americans or Mexican Americans; or, in intensely urban areas with Puerto Ricans and African Americans. The focus has been on the debilitating circumstances and suffering faced by large sectors of these populations.
“Those communities are overwhelmed by stressful life conditions and events,” added Arce. “Those communities are severely vulnerable to problems of hunger, homelessness violence, imprisonment, or job loss.”
As part of Arce’s commitment to showcasing that every single child is precious, he was previously recognized by Holyoke High School students in the Pa’lante’ Restorative Justice Group as a “Paper City Hidden Legend.” Arce was honored for his work as an activist, organizer, and leader who has helped pave the way for high school students leading the celebration of Holyoke’s diversity and rich history of social activism.
In addition, Arce has also served as the founding executive director of Nueva Esperanza Inc., a highly regarded community-based program in Holyoke that celebrates and highlights the Puerto Rican/Afro Caribbean culture.
“I have always been so proud to work at Springfield College and be a part of the mission of service to others,” concluded Arce. “I think when you get communities working together, you can really make a difference, and I am thankful to have this opportunity as part of my Distinguished Professor of Humanics work this year.”