Creating a safe space for students

PHOTOS BY RICCI LOGAN/THE ARKA TECH Monte was a part of the Golden Suns basketball team for two years, winning two back-to-back Great American Conference titles.

Fabiana Monte knows what it is like to be an international student on campus. The struggle of people trying to understand your culture, your background and where you come from. Monte was born in Pernambuco, Brazil. She grew up in São Paulo, Brazil in tough area. Monte’s mom, Maria Hozana Da Silva, wanted her and her brother to be involved in extracurricular activities so they would stay out of trouble. Her brother, Fellipe Monte, played basketball at a club called Olimpic de Treinamento e Presquila. Her brother’s coach saw her one day: “I was twelve years old. The coach saw how tall I was and wanted me to come play basketball at the club,” Monte said. At first she wasn’t that good but she always hustled, and had heart on the court. With a lot of time and practice, she would grow to be a great basketball player. She even attend a private school in Brazil to play basketball. Even though she had scholarship, it was a struggle to pay for her books. She walked thirty-minutes every day just to catch a bus to go to school. Her mother helped her while always stressing that education was important.

When she realized that basketball was the love of her life, she had to make a decision—should she try to go pro or get an education with basketball? She decided she would get an education, and she started going to junior college in Kansas where she played basketball for two years.

Her transition from Brazil to America was marked by culture shock. America was so different from what she had seen on television. Her freshman year was very challenging between being a student athlete and trying to learn the English language. “I took a special English class three times a week after basketball practice along with going to class,” Monte said. At end her of freshman year, she was one of the top forty junior college players in the country. She also played in the junior college all-star game.

After spending two years at the junior college, Monte found herself at Arkansas Tech in 2014 after being recruited by Julio Pacheco. Monte was a part of the Golden Suns basketball team for two years, winning two back-to-back Great American Conference titles. “The two years I played basketball at here I had a lot of fun and made lot of friends. I definitely made the right decision coming here,” Monte said.

Monte would go on to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduation from Arkansas Tech, she wanted to give back to student affairs because they helped her so much.

She became a graduate assistant for the Diversity and Inclusion office at Arkansas Tech. The Diversity and Inclusion office is here to be the voice for underrepresented students on campus. For example, African American students, Hispanic students or LGBTQ+ students.

“We want to make sure our students have a safe space on campus. We also want to educate students who have not encountered many minorities in their life,” Monte said. Monte helps assemble events on campus like Soul Food Sunday and Hispanic Heritage Month. These events help other students get an understanding on other cultures’ traditions. The events also help eliminate stereotypes about other cultures.

Diversity and Inclusion wants to help bring students together from all walks of life. Monte said, “Being a part of Diversity and Inclusion does not mean we want to push people farther apart. We want bring people together by learning about one another.”

Monte wants to create a loving environment for students at Tech. She knows what it’s like coming from hard circumstances to be successful. Monte will graduate with her master’s this May. She wants Arkansas Tech to continue to grow the community she came to know and love during her time here.