Waleska Santiago is a passionate advocate for art and Puerto Rican culture. From Arecibo, Puerto Rico, she embarked on a journey at the age of 19, arriving here in Springfield in 1989 with a burning desire to pursue her college education and immerse herself in the world of art. Waleska pursued her dreams with persistence. She began her academic journey at STCC, where she completed her associate degree later transferring to Mt Holyoke College as an Art History Major and eventually earning her Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, working at the esteemed Cooper Museum.
Over the years, Waleska has dedicated herself to ensuring that elementary and middle school students are engaged with the arts, music, literature, dance, and theater, helping our youth foster a deep appreciation for Puerto Rican culture. Waleska is also known as a contributor to the museums at UMass Amherst and St. Joseph's University, curating exhibits and educating visitors. Waleska has collaborated with the Springfield Museums on initiatives aimed at providing more opportunities to celebrate the diverse population of the greater Springfield area.
Her curatorial achievements include exhibitions at the Westfield Atheneum and the Agusta Savage Gallery. In collaboration, she conceived and curated "Nuestras Abuelas", a traveling exhibition honoring the legacy of grandmothers in Puerto Rican and other Latino communities. For almost a decade, Waleska served as President of the Board of Directors for the Puerto Rican Institute for Arts and Advocacy in Providence, Rhode Island. Her leadership and dedication were instrumental in advancing the organization's vision of establishing a permanent arts and cultural center in downtown Providence, offering enriching Puerto Rican cultural programming to the public. In her role as a librarian at Crocker Farms Elementary School where she has worked for almost a decade, Waleska has built a transformative library program, centering the narratives of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Women's, and LGBTQ+ voices. She engages students in critical dialogues, fostering equity and justice within our educational landscape.
Her contributions as a cultural resource are immeasurable and deserving of recognition as our Cultural Ambassador. Waleska Santiago's journey is a testament to her resilience, passion, and unwavering commitment to promoting Puerto Rican culture, education, and social justice.
As our 2023 Parade Cultural Ambassador, we know she will continue to inspire and uplift our communities. Congratulations!