How This Associate Dean is Creating Supportive Spaces for Students, Staff, and Faculty Across CNM

From their time as a student to their current role as Associate Dean for the School of Skilled Trades & Arts, Dani Belvin has found support and acceptance at CNM and is dedicated to expanding that acceptance throughout higher education
July 02, 2024

Dani Belvin, who uses she/they pronouns and identifies as pansexual, has always loved the welcoming and supportive environment they’ve found as both a theater student and educator at CNM. Now in their role as an Assoicate Dean, they’re focused on continuing to strengthen that environment as a leader and mentor.  

“What has always drawn me to CNM, even as far back as when I was an Early Childhood Education student in the TVI days, was the institution's connection to the community,” they say. “So, when I started as the Associate Dean of Skilled Trades & Arts back in 2022, I knew my role was to embrace people and their intersecting identities and show them that there is a place for them at CNM, in the community, and in the world.” 

After completing their prerequisites at CNM, Dani transferred to UNM where they earned bachelor’s degrees in Theater and Asian Studies and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in Theater from the University of Hawaii.   

Dani has felt supported throughout their educational journey, and they give credit to the more open and accepting environment found in theater and the arts. But Dani knows there is still progress to be made across disciplines.  

“Theater historically holds more space for queerness than other disciplines, and I have seen that reflected back to me in the faculty, staff, students, that I’ve studied and worked with” Dani says. “I’ve also seen an increase in acceptance and openness throughout my time in higher education, but there is still a long way to go.  That’s why I try to be as open about my identity as possible so I can signal to others that they are safe being who they are, or who they tell me they are.” 

In addition to their role as Associate Dean, Dani is currently finishing their doctoral dissertation at Antioch University. It focuses on the importance of devised theater in post-secondary education for current and historically marginalized populations. They're also purposely making their dissertation more accessible by creating a podcast instead of a written document.  

“Devised theater is ensemble created theater, which just means it’s created collaboratively by a group of people versus working from a pre-determined script,” Dani explains. “It’s critical to provide this style of theater because it allows people of all genders, sexualities, ethnic backgrounds, and other historically marginalized communities to share their stores. In my podcast series, I’ve interviewed folks from across the country already doing this work and I will hopefully have the series completed by the end of the year.” 

Ultimately, Dani wants to use their work to help LGBTQIA2S+ and students from other diverse backgrounds thrive in higher education.  

“My biggest advice is to find community, because we cannot travel through this life alone,” they say. “It's also so important to practice creativity and artistic expression, and CNM is excited and ready to give you space to express yourself.”