Throughout his tenure at RIC, management major Joshua Laguerre excelled academically and helped transform student government into a more diverse and inclusive organization.
There’s been a big push for diversity and inclusion in businesses across the country, but management major Joshua Laguerre ’10 was pushing for it more than 10 years ago as a member of student government.
“I ran for student government because not many folks in student government looked like me,” Laguerre says.
Laguerre’s parents immigrated from Haiti in 1986. A year later, he was born. Education was a strong focus in their household. Laguerre ended up in the gifted program at Nathaniel Greene Middle School and later attended Classical High School, a public magnet school.
“My father set a strong example of leadership,” he says. “He’s a pastor. As a Black immigrant man in America, no matter what my father dealt with, he kept his head up and tried to be a good role model for his kids. He would take me with him to his meetings with other men, and I developed a comfort level in being with all kinds of people. It informed who I am today.”
In his sophomore year at RIC, while president of Harambee, a multicultural student organization, Laguerre and some friends decided to run for student government. “My goal, once elected, was to recruit students who could diversify student government,” he says.
After becoming a member of Parliament, Laguerre ran for president of student government and lost.
“Student government leaders are elected by members of Parliament,” Laguerre explains. “Though I didn’t win, I did make a name for myself by actively recruiting students with racial, gender and ability differences. I wanted students to know that if you look like me, or any other underrepresented group, you could join student government.”
Laguerre also sought to educate the student body about the role of student government. “I explained to them that their student activities fees were being managed by student government, who allocates funds to student organizations. By getting involved in student government, they could have a voice in the kind of college experience they wanted.”
In his fourth year, Laguerre was elected deputy speaker of student government. In his final year, he was elected president. On his ticket were Latino Travis Escobar ’13, African American Shawn Andrews ’10 and African American Christopher Volcy ’11, who were elected to offices alongside him. Over the course of that period, not only did diversity increase, so did transparency.
“To maintain transparency, we had an open-door policy,” he says. “Any student could knock on the door and engage with us. We weren’t some elite group in a closed room, doling out decisions. Ultimately, we got a lot of traffic because students knew they could talk to us about any issue.”
“There were also times when we had to make tough decisions and say no because a certain policy might not be in the best interest of the student body. Folks weren’t always happy with our decisions and it might end up in the Anchor newspaper, but the way it was portrayed by the Anchor might not be consistent with reality. Yet one of the things I really appreciated about my time in student government was the opportunity I had to own my own decisions and deal with the consequences of those decisions,” he says.
Throughout his tenure at RIC, Laguerre excelled academically. He was an honors student in the management degree program, exemplifying that it is as important to focus on academics as it is to be involved on campus. He was also mentored by Joe Costa, director emeritus of Student Support Services.
“Joe was heavily involved in my development,” Laguerre says. “I met with him consistently once a week. With his support, I engaged in activities like the Student Leadership Development Conference, where I saw thousands of students of color and attended different panels on leadership and other topics.”
“Living on campus, attending events and representing student government was pretty profound,” he says. “I will never forget it. For a time, we were in the power seat; we were getting things done; and we really owned the moment. I was lucky to have such an awesome ecosystem of folks who were all at RIC at the same time. My time at RIC truly informed who I am today. It was practice for the real world, and I made lifelong friends from that time.”
Laguerre graduated cum laude with a B.S. degree in management in 2010. He wrote his honors thesis on leadership development, which was presided over by Professor Emeritus Randy Desimone. For excellence in leadership, he was awarded the Rose Butler Browne Leadership Award.
Laguerre went on to earn a J.D. degree at the Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2014. Today he works for the Massachusetts Division of Banks in the consumer protection unit as a senior bank examiner. He conducts routine examinations of nearly 160 banks and credit unions that fall under the division’s jurisdiction, ensuring that they adhere to the law. Laguerre is also a member of the newly formed Black Alumni Network at RIC.