By Stacey Linehan, posted 02/02/2012
I had the pleasure of meeting with Oscar R. Collins the other day and he graciously explained to me his role in the team of CMASS. Collins is the Associate Director of Academic Support at CMASS. His spacious, window filled office which allows for plenty of sunlight fits his personality flawlessly. A bubbly, ready to go, excited professional who can’t seem to get enough of the college campus atmosphere works hard to ensure that students of underrepresented backgrounds are given fair opportunity and are succeeding.
Oscar was born in Belize in an area called Crooked Tree Village which is now a bird sanctuary. His large family later immigrated to Chicago, where Oscar attended school until college. After completing his Bachelors degree, he attended the University of Nebraska for his Masters in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Higher Education.
His first appearance at UMass was working as a Residential Director in the Southwest Dorm Kennedy from 1994 until 1997. After that, he went to work in Washington, D.C. at Howard University as an Associate Director of Student Activities. For family reasons, Oscar returned to UMass as a learning specialist with UMass athletes. This was an interesting job for Oscar who says he has no athletic ability beyond dance. He enjoyed the job because he could see his students being successful. When he saw the opportunity to work at CMASS he knew he had to apply because the description of the job matched his passion. His passion has always been focused around social justice and diversity. He understands that diversity is good for everyone and the more backgrounds we explore, the better understanding we can have of ourselves.
Oscar’s positivity is contagious. After simply interviewing him, I felt energized. He wants UMass students to know that “everything is a process and [CMASS is] here to help you through that process, whatever it may be.” You get what you see with Oscar, a real person with no hidden agendas, who truly wants to make a positive impact in life of as many students as he can.
Oscar has many hopes and desires for CMASS. He hopes that this student service can eventually become nationally recognized as well as institutionally recognized. He thinks the notoriety is important because then CMASS can be an example of what should be happening on campuses worldwide in terms of promoting and encouraging diversity.
“If you don’t know me, come see me,” says Oscar. So what are you waiting for?