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About Us

"we are more than just an acronym"

Mission Statement

The goal of the Thea Bowman AHANA (African, Hispanic Asian, and Native American) and Intercultural Center is to support the undergraduate community, with a particular focus on AHANA, multicultural, multiracial and OTE students in navigating college life. We strive to promote a welcoming environment that fosters holistic development. BAIC seeks to form students of conscience, excellence, competence and compassion who will make a difference in the world. Our goal is retain, care for and graduate our students. The Center also offers programming to facilitate students’ identity formation, build cultural competency and create community across areas of difference. Examples of services include: College Counseling, Mentoring, Academic and Leadership programs such as the Community Research Program and Bowman Advocates for Inclusive Culture, Jamaica Magis Service and Immersion trip and the Magis Civil Rights Immersion trip . Education such as Racial Identity Leadership Experience (RIDE) and Dialogues on Race (DOR); as well as an awards component. The vision of our work is to promote equity, build community and support opportunity while caring for our students.


Vision Statement

Our vision is to promote equity, build community, and support opportunity.

Pillars of the Office

Ingrained in our mission are the following:

1. Promote Equity

2. Build Community

3. Support Opportunity



In 1973 Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., then General of the Society of Jesus, coined the phrase “men and women for others”. He envisioned that graduates from Jesuit educational institutions would be people who worked for justice.

Our work is rooted in the Catholic tradition of our university, specifically in the Catholic Social Teaching Principles which we understand express a commitment to addressing institutional racism and inequities for AHANA and low income students.  Our guiding principles are:

1. Human dignity and rights: we believe that a just society is based on respect for human dignity.

2. Common good we believe that we all have a stake in ensuring that individuals within our community reach their fulfillment and can fully participate in their communities.

3. Subsidiaritywe believe that we have a duty to denounce unjust situations in society and to work with authorities to protect people from abuses.

4. Solidarity. We believe that our interdependence calls us to contribute to positive changes in society.


Our work is inspired by the life and philosophy of Thea Bowman, a catholic nun of the Franciscan Sisters of the Perpetual Adoration, who “helped people everywhere she went to explore their identity and to find their deepest humanity.” (Smith & Feister, 1)

Theoretical framework

Our work is grounded on multi-disciplinary theories, namely,

1. Critical Race Theory - is a framework that grew out of work in legal studies over concern with slow progress on civil rights and social justice issues.  It is used to deepen understanding of the educational barriers for people of color, as well as exploring how these barriers are resisted and overcome. 

2. Cultural Capital - Students bring cultural capital that can be of great value to them in their journey through BC.  This capital includes: aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational, resistant.

3. Meritocracy - There is a complex relationship between education and social mobility.  Education can provide an opportunity for empowerment and social economic mobility through hard work and talent.   However, education can also reproduce social inequalities by rewarding the social and cultural capital of more privileged groups.

4. Affiliation - Recent research shows that same-race peer group affiliations for students of color reinforce socially conscious values and the pursuit of activities and careers in service of their community.   In addition, when white students interact with students of color they too derive the same types of benefits, underscoring the educational value of affirmative action in helping institutions fulfill their mission to prepare educational leaders.

5. Racial Identity Development - Racial identity development is a complex and fluid construct and cannot be understood apart from other social identities.  Racial identity is shaped by social, political, geographical (and religious) contexts. 

6. Inclusive Excellence - Tenets of Inclusive Excellence call on BC and the BAIC to strive for equitable educational outcomes for AHANA, multicultural and multiracial students and to ensure that diversity goals go beyond increasing racial/ethnic diversity.

7. Social Justice Tenets - Understanding how privilege, resistance and dominant ideology function in the university can help the BAIC engage with, and educate, members of the university who work with AHANA students with the goal of working towards social justice.

Definition of terms

Social diversity education:  focuses on appreciating social differences without an emphasis on power dynamics or differential access to resources and institutional support needed to life safe, satisfying, productive lives.   (Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 2007)

Social justice education: focuses on understanding the social power dynamics and social inequality that result in some social groups having privilege, status and access, whereas other groups are disadvantaged, oppressed, and denied access.  Social power can be defined as access to resources that enhance one’s chances of getting what one needs or influencing others in order to lead a safe, productive, fulfilling life.  (Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 2007)

Racial identity development: process by which individuals achieve an awareness of their sense of self in relation to race within a larger social, cultural, and historical context.   (Wijeyesinghe & Jackson, 2012)

Cultural competence education: process to facilitate the acquisition of a set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral skills and characteristics that support effective and appropriate interaction in a variety of cultural contexts. (Benett, 2008)

Multiculturalism: seeks to promote the valuing of diversity and equal opportunity for all people through understanding of the contributions and perspectives of people of differing race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, gender, social orientation, and physical abilities and disabilities.  A multicultural curriculum provides a more comprehensive, accurate, intellectually honest view of reality; prepare all students to function in a multicultural society, and better meet the learning needs of students… (Morey and Kitano, 1997). 

Boston College, Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center
Maloney Hall, Suite 455 | 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
Phone: 617-552-3358 | Email:


Since its founding 43 years ago, the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center has grown substantially to meet the needs of Boston College’s increasingly diverse student population, and has changed its name several times to reflect this growth and change. Today, BAIC serves 735 BC students each year through its 23 regular programs, and touches even more through single events, presentations, outreach, and collaboration with other BC departments. To learn more about the history of the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, please view and click on the the web resources below.


Key Milestones   |  AHANA Defined  |  Sr. Bowman Tribute  |  Benjamin E. May Bio