Professor emphasizes the connection between art and happiness

Professor of Organizational Leadership Yvette Latunde talks about the importance of the arts in her academic career at the faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Boardroom. Latunde also discussed her latest book, “Equitable by Design: A Guide to Utilizing the Abundance Within Black Families and Communities to Support Students.” / photo by Jingyao Liang
Professor of Organizational Leadership Yvette Latunde talks about the importance of the arts in her academic career at the faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Boardroom. Latunde also discussed her latest book, “Equitable by Design: A Guide to Utilizing the Abundance Within Black Families and Communities to Support Students.” / photo by Jingyao Liang

Yvette Latunde, co-director of the Center for Educational Equity and Intercultural Research, presented her lecture, “How the Arts Enhance My Academic Life,” Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Boardroom. Latunde spoke in part of the La Verne Academy’s weekly faculty lecture series, where five students attended in person and 12 people attended online. 

Jason Neidleman, professor of political science and ULV Academy member, introduced and welcomed Latunde, who is also a professor of organizational leadership.

She began by acknowledging the Tongva nation, whose land the University sits on. 

“This is supposed to be informal and fun,” Latunde said. 

She encouraged people to interact and ask questions during her presentation. 

She discussed art, defined as the expression or application of human creative skills, as a way to tell marginalized stories, connect people and maintain a happy life. 

“It’s healing for me to be the midwife to other people’s stories,” Latunde said. 

She said she sees art as a way to express stories and perspectives that are often dismissed. Latunde also said she sees artistry in many things. 

She said that her family connects through and makes time for art. 

“There’s not a week that goes by that we’re not at a library, a museum or a botanical garden,” Latunde said.

She spoke particularly about literature as art. She mentioned the books that she has written as well as shared some books that she found especially helpful with the audience members. 

“I use art to help me to go with the grief and to stay full of joy so that when I sit down to write I have clarity…I have openness,” Latunde said. 

She said she uses art to fill her cup each day. 

Latunde said that sometimes what is called a writer’s block is actually an emotional block. She uses art to get over that feeling. 

Near the end of her presentation, she showed the audience the cover of one of her books,  “Equitable by Design.” It is her latest and she said it is the favorite book she has written. 

She and the audience discussed the design of and imagery on the cover page and how it communicated what the scholarship inside says. 

The cover illustration features a boy is raising his hand in a classroom, eager to learn, with a stained glass background that suggests he is not alone and has a community standing behind and supporting him. The book is about using an abundance of resources to support students in Black families. 

She said she keeps her message positive and only presents evidence-based practices and ways to support Black students in her writing, rather than writing about any disparities or achievement gaps in the school system. 

—Olivia Modarelli

Olivia Modarelli, a senior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. She previously served as a staff writer and copy editor.

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