Dina Zavala

26 September 2023
By Erica Helgerud ’20

10 facts about Carleton’s inaugural Vice President for Inclusion, Equity and Community.

Dina Zavala
Photo by Nate Ryan ’10
  1. Born and raised in the countryside of Lake Yojoa, Honduras, Zavala immigrated to Wisconsin after teaching elementary school in her hometown.
  2. Describing her career path as a “Midwest educational journey,” Zavala earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin River-Falls, her master’s at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, and her PhD at North Dakota State University.
  3. In college, Zavala joined a folklore troupe focused on reviving Indigenous dance practices.
  4. Zavala has spent her life exploring different languages, cultures, and educational experiences. Her formal studies represent a wide range of topics, from Spanish to international studies to adult education, and she’s always enjoyed sharing her culture and the true history of Honduras by teaching her language.
  5. Zavala once visited the Scottish Highlands, which she loved because the landscape was so different from the Central American forests of her youth and the Midwestern forests and prairies of her adulthood.
  6. Zavala began her higher ed career as the Spanish program director at Valley City University in North Dakota but soon decided that her “heart was in IDE work” and followed that calling first to Mayville State University and then to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse before coming to Carleton.
  7. Carleton’s small size was Zavala’s top reason for applying. “It creates space to form deep relationships with students and colleagues,” she says, “which allows me to make a bigger impact.”
  8. The inaugural VPIEC position was identified as a priority in Carleton’s Community Plan for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (IDE).
  9. Zavala and her partner Steven have two kids, a daughter who also works in higher education and a son who is finishing high school. The family has two cats, Marie and May, and a dog named Luna.
  10. Zavala is excited to collaborate with all the people invested in IDE work on campus—which, she says, is pretty much everyone!

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