Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center

Meet the GBCC Staff!


Photo of Rocio Ayard Ochoa  Rocio  Ayard Ochoa

Pronouns | She, Her, Hers

Director - Multicultural Center

In my role as the Director of the Multicultural Center and as a student affairs practitioner I am passionate about social justice, intersectionality and developing students through education, engagement and leadership. I ensure GBCC provides a unique and empowering space for students to experience college life. It is also important that GBCC is a space on campus that offers a holistic learning experience allowing students to explore ethnic identity development, engage in social justice, community outreach, cultural expression, social and professional networking so they can become the best version of themselves. I hold a B. A. in Sociology from Wartburg College in Waverly Iowa and a M.A in Latin American Studies from the University of Granada in Granada, Spain. My favorite place to travel is Rome, Italy. My favorite movies is "Finding Nemo" & "Hidden Figures". One of my goal for this year is to continue to be a servant leader. 

My Favorite quote is 

 Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? 

- Frida Kahlo

 Carl Ervin headshot Carl Ervin

Pronouns | He, Him, His

Program Coordinator -Multicultural Center

My role is Multicultural Center Program Coordinator. I assist students and the MCC in a commitment to growth, development, success and excellence. I earned a B.S. in Political Science from Illinois State University and a M.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. One of my goals for the year is to make each day a great day for someone. One of my favorite places to travel is Toronto, Canada. That would be in the summer. One of my favorite movies is Black Panther. One of my favorite books is Dune by Frank Herbert. 

My favorite quote is 

 " I don't know the key to success, but I do know that the key to failure is trying to please everyone"  - John Wooden, Hall of Fame basketball coach who led UCLA to ten consecutive Division I Basketball championship titles.

 Jerome Halsey headshot Jerome Halsey

Pronouns | He, Him, His

Events Administrator -Multicultural Center

I am the events administrator for the multicultural center. I am responsible for being the best side kick I can be to our students here at WIU. That means being a mentor, a helping hand a voice of directions and at times, a listening ear. I am passionate about social justice, paying it forward and the truth. I am currently preparing to receive my M.A. in applied statistics and decision analytics. My ideal place to travel would have to be Jamaica. My hobbies include sports, art, reading and the gym. My favorite movies would be Paid In Full and The Lion King. One of my goals for this year is to have a positive impact on communities across America. 

My favorite quote is 

 "Why can't I be MVP of the league?"  - Derrick Rose.

Photo of Judy Richardson Judy Richardson

Pronouns | She, Her, Hers

Office Administrator -Multicultural Center

I am the Office Administrator for the Multicultural Center. I am new to the team. I handle all of the room scheduling, budgeting and paperwork for the Multicultural Center and try to assist the staff and student organizations in any way I can. I am currently working on a General Studies degree. My favorite place that I have traveled is Cancun, Mexico. My favorite movie is "Pride & Prejudice." One goal I have for this year is to expand my cultural knowledge. 

My favorite quote is 

 "Shake it off; rub some dirt on it!"


Bonita Akinbo

Graduate Assistant-Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center

My name is Abidemi, but I prefer to be called Bonita. I am from Nigeria. I am a Graduate Student in the English Department. I had my first degree in Broadcasting in my home country,  and I desire to pursue a PhD in African American and African Diaspora Studies. I've had five years working experience in Multimedia, Human Resource, Customer Care, Sales and Business Development before I decided to take a break and pursue a Masters degree. My interests are Post Colonial Studies, Ecocriticism, Queer Theory, African American Studies and Afropolitanism. Working in the GBCC as a Graduate Assistant has given me the platform to experience my new environment in such a dynamic and insightful way. It has enabled me more access to people of color whom I share a lot in common with in terms of daily experiences and basic fundamentals of  'otherness'. Also, I get the chance to learn, unlearn and relearn new ways of perceiving, understanding, and communicating with my immediate environment, and the society at large." 




Brandon Smith

Graduate Assistant - Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center

Everyone meet Brandon! Brandon is pursuing his Masters of Science degree in Law enforcement Justice Administration. He is from Robbins, Illinois. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Law enforcement Justice Administration with a minor in African American studies right here at WIU. During his undergraduate journey, he was involved in several things on campus including Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Investigators club, Preeminent gentleman society, the Centennial Honors College, and even worked as a student worker for the Liberal Arts and Science department. Some of his favorite hobbies are cooking, reading, and working on cars. You can always catch him at the recreational center and at the MCC giving out free lessons on how to tie a neck and bow tie. 

 meisha Meisha Brown

Graduate Assistant - Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center

Meet our newest Graduate Assistant, Meisha! Meisha is finishing up her Masters of Science in Sociology. She is from Davenport, Iowa. Meisha obtained her Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement & Justice Administration with a minor in Sociology, here from Western Illinois University. During undergrad, Meisha spent a significant amount of time being involved in many jobs organizations on campus. Some of those including Picture Perfect Modeling Troupe, Zeta Phi Beta, Inc., Preeminent Ladies Society, Beyond Beautiful, and even worked as Admissions Ambassador for the undergraduate admissions office. Meisha enjoys alone time and traveling home to be with family and friends. Stop by to see Meisha at the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center, anytime during the weekday.