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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

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Saint Mary's hires new BAVO coordinator

Saint Mary’s has announced the hiring of their new Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) coordinator, Alexa Zapata. 

Zapata, a Saint Mary’s alumnae, has been working at the College for several years. She has served as a counselor for Saint Mary’s Health and Counseling department, an adjunct professor and has experience at the local Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Liz Baumann, Saint Mary’s Title IX officer, said she chose Zapata for the job in large part due to her experience.

“She already has that built-in trust which is really important in a role like the Belles Against Violence Office Coordinator. She also has experience working with survivors and also educating on interpersonal violence and that is a huge part of the BAVO role. So it is just a perfect fit for someone like Alexa., Baumann said.

Zapata said her time as a student at the College helps her connect with the students.

“It provides a special connection to the students I work with because I was once in their shoes in one way or another. I used to and continue to use alumnae as a huge resource, so I am ecstatic to provide any help I can to current and future students,” Zapata said.

The position of BAVO coordinator relies heavily on working directly with students. Zapata feels confident that she will enjoy and excel in this aspect of the job.

“Student interactions are always my favorite. I came into higher education because I love working with this population, so I am excited to continue with the student interaction and to provide support and advocacy to the best of my ability,” she said.

Zapata believes her experience at Saint Mary’s and knowledge of the tri-campus as a whole will make for a smooth transition into the role of BAVO coordinator. She said she’s ready to hit the ground running in her new position. One of Zapata’s main goals is to create a space for students on campus to be without social or academic stress.

“I have lots of ideas to help continue creating safe spaces for students. One of the things I have always loved about other offices on campus is that there are places where you can go to have support but also to unwind. I want to create that space for students and in an effort to destigmatize talking about and seeking support for interpersonal violence and what that may look like for students on or off campus,” Zapata said.

Zapata and Baumann both agree that BAVO is a vital resource for Saint Mary’s students. Zapata said she hopes the program will continue to flourish under her leadership.

“It is a crucial resource for students, whether it is that they have historically gone through some form of violence or they go through it during their time in college. I am honored to be able to provide advocacy and represent the ongoing fight of Belles working against violence,” Zapata said.

Baumann said she is excited to see BAVO under new leadership.

“Im really proud of everything that BAVO has done and I'm really excited to see where Alexa takes it. I think she has a lot of really great new ideas as well as the experience and skills to carry on what we were already doing, so I'm really excited to see where BAVO goes in the coming years under Alexa’s guidance,” Baumann said.

Zapata said she considers Saint Mary’s to be “home.”

“It is an absolute honor,” she said. “I always say I am so happy to have found my way back ‘home’ as I have always considered SMC my home.”