New Cultural Center Coordinator Named

By Esperanza Juarez

There’s a new, yet familiar face on campus.

After being away for five years, La’Keisha Gilford-Beard, who
formerly worked with Cal Poly’s University Housing Services,
returned to campus in mid-November as the new coordinator of the
African American Student Center.

Gilford-Beard is immensely focused on education. She attended
high school in Carson and earned her bachelor’s degree in
Communication at Cal State San Bernardino. She later earned her
master’s degree in Cross Cultural Education from Nation

During her time away from Cal Poly, she taught first and fourth
graders within the Compton Unified School District. After two years
of teaching, Gilford-Beard worked within the University of
California school system at UC Irvine’s housing services. While
working there, she was a two-time recipient of the Black Leadership
Advancement Coalitions New Professional Award.

“I feel like I’m a life long learner. I love learning (…) I
love teaching other people things and watching them learn and
discover new things,” said Gilford-Beard.

She hadn’t planned on a career change, but once she heard about
the opening at Cal Poly, she decided to apply for the position.

“When I was here at Cal Poly, I liked the work that the cultural
centers were doing,” said Gilford-Beard. “I really liked the work
that the African American Center was doing. It’s something that I
wanted to do (…) and I’m excited for the opportunity.”

With her new occupation, Gilford-Beard is putting her love of
education to use every day at the African American Student Center.
As the new coordinator of the center, Gilford-Beard is responsible
for several duties.

One obligation is preparing for the Diversity Ambassadors
program, an annual event where 12 students are selected for a civil
rights trip to the South. She is also responsible for the Pan
African graduation. With February being Black History Month,
Gilford-Beard will also be in charge of any celebratory and
awareness events hosted by the center during the month.

Gilford-Beard also advises clubs and organizations on campus and
does collaborative work with the other cultural centers at Cal
Poly. She is also a member of the Black Faculty and Staff

“I’m here to be a resource to the students on campus and to the
community,” said Gilford-Beard.

In addition to the usual duties the center’s coordinator
assumes, Gilford-Beard is eager to utilize her role on campus and
take things one-step further by becoming involved on a larger scale
within the campus and local community.

“I would like to work in conjunction with admissions to bring
more African American students to campus and also on retention and
seeing them through graduation,” said Gilford-Beard. “I would
[also] like the center to become a focal point on campus where all
students, not just African American students, can come and [have
this be] a place of comfort and resource for them.”

Esperanza Juarez can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 869-3747.

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