EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Daniela Vidal took the reins at Ivy Tech’s Evansville campus in March. She’s the first Hispanic woman to lead a local college.
Originally from Venezuela, Vidal moved to the U.S. when she was 9 years old for three years to learn English. By 1998, she got married and moved to Evansville and has been here ever since.
“The Latino community in Indiana is a point of hope; it is the only demographic that is growing,” Vidal explained. ” Evansville had an inexistent Latino community back in 2001, but shortly after that it was a very rapid growth – almost exponential growth of Latinos in Evansville.”
It’s that rapid growth that led Vidal to become a founding member of HOLA Evansville – a not-for-profit formed in 2002 to help the growing Latino community.
“HOLA – is Hospitality and Outreach for Latin American’s, that’s what it stands for, but our mission statement is to enhance cultural appreciation and the successful inclusion of Latinos in the community,” Vidal said.
During its earlier years – HOLA became a bridge between the Hispanic community.
“It helped the city welcome and be ready and be prepared for this influx of Latinos so that we can have a different type of path from other cities,” Vidal said. “So that we don’t ignore it and then it becomes an issue, we want to say how can we do it, so that they can be successful and navigate our system, our schools, healthcare. et cetera.”
Vidal is a mechanical engineer by trade and has worked for major corporations including GE and Procter & Gamble.
Vidal says the Hispanic community can do anything it sets their minds too.
“There are opportunities no matter your background that are possible,” Vidal said.
Now she leads Ivy Tech in Evansville – where she says her vision is to bring about hope.
“How we support our students in making sure they have that connectivity because one thing that worries me tremendously as we move towards this online world is that we are going to make that digital divide even greater,” Vidal said.
Vidal says her goal is to bring not just her students but the community together.
“Yeah we have work to do, but truly Evansville – E is for everyone is here, it is there and it is living up to its name.”
(This story was originally published on October 9, 2020)