Former San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz takes post at Mount Holyoke College


  • Carmen Yulin Cruz, then mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, answers questions during an hourlong press conference at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Nov. 7, 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2021 7:27:35 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Carmen Yulín Cruz, the former mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, will join Mount Holyoke College as a fellow focused on leadership initiatives for the next year.

Cruz will work directly with students in her role, according to a college spokeswoman, and will remain in the post through December 2021.

The fellowship focuses on “designing leadership programming at the Weissman Center — inviting truly exciting special guests to speak through virtual and on-campus visits, working with local community organizations and mentoring and supporting students in myriad ways,” according to Amy E. Martin, director of the Weissman Center for Leadership and a professor of English.

Cruz said in a statement that she looks forward to being able “to share my experiences with other young women and students who are looking to find their platforms and their voices.”

“Speaking truth to power comes with its challenges, but when it is done out of sheer conviction and profound respect for the lives of others, we understand that raising our voices in times of need is not a heroic act,” she said.

“On the contrary, it is a necessary choice that must be exercised with the utmost respect for those who have felt the lethal impact of inaction and discrimination,” she added.

Cruz served as mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2013 through 2020, taking up the office after she unseated 12-year incumbent Jorge Santini. She previously was a member of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2013.

As mayor of San Juan, Cruz drew attention to the widespread damage Hurricane Maria inflicted upon Puerto Rico in 2017, and was a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump and his administration’s lack of federal aid to the island.

Cruz is no stranger to Mount Holyoke or the Pioneer Valley. She spoke at the college in 2018 and 2019 and applauded the city of Holyoke for its officials’ efforts to help refugees fleeing Hurricane Maria’s destruction.

Cruz’s “strong connection to Mount Holyoke is already established,” college president Sonya Stephens said in a statement, “and this new year-long engagement will enable many more members of our community to experience first-hand her political insight, powerful leadership and generosity of spirit.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at
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