Students Raise Their Voices to Bring a Coffee Shop to IAIA

By Deborah Svatos

On a college campus like that of the Institute of American Indian Arts, a place for students to come together and socialize such as a coffee shop has the potential to be hugely beneficial to the social interactions and comfort of students. Thanks to Monika Guerra, of Mexican descent, and a BFA Studio Arts major in the Business and Entrepreneurship program, this coffee shop could very well become a reality on the IAIA campus. Through a survey she recently sent out, Guerra gathered the opinions of various IAIA students to find that there is a strong interest in bringing a coffee shop to this campus, one that might advocate for environmental protection and showcase student artwork. By reaching out and making the voices of IAIA students heard, she feels strongly that we would collectively be able to make a difference in making this happen.

“The survey has really given me a broader insight on what the students (on campus and off campus) really want at IAIA. Not only would it benefit the students, but it would benefit the staff, A-I-R Residents, outside community and the school itself. Students and professors really emphasized how something like this needs to happen. One student stated that IAIA was “losing its social spark” and something like this could actually bring it back. I deeply believe in snowball effects and I also deeply believe that something as simple as having coffee shop will be the positive snowball at IAIA,” Guerra says.

Having been the manager of a local tea shop and worked for a coffee chain for more than a year, Guerra has seen the way such an environment allows people to connect. In taking steps to help

this campus coffee shop become a reality, she aims to recreate this same kind of open location in which students could have the same experience.

“After working as manager at a local tea shop and at Starbucks for over a year, I have always wanted to run my own coffee shop business, and I planned on making it happen in the future. It was the main reason why I’m doing the business and entrepreneurship program. But I learned a lot, especially how much the atmosphere of a coffee shop can really bring people together and make an individual feel welcomed and safe. I’ve seen people hang out, have meetings, study and much more from the start of my shifts until the end. A coffee shop is one of the top atmospheres people prefer to go to. I want to bring this to my school community,” says Guerra.

On top of giving them a space that meets their needs, it would be an important chance to show that the effort of many people coming together can make an impact. For Guerra, this is just another reason that bringing this idea to fruition can do much for so many.

“Ask the 495 students enrolled how this coffee shop will be beneficial to IAIA and you’ll get 495 positive answers. Every student has their own answers and reasons for supporting this coffee shop, whether it’s personal or general,” says Guerra. “A few of the many reasons are providing work study jobs, solving commuting issues for those with no transportation, give business program students the experience if they want to be a part of the student-run business, express students’ artwork more often, advocate environment protection and most importantly, provide comfort and the positive atmosphere that the students deserve.”


Monika Guerra, a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts stands in front of the coffee machines that she wants to see replaced with a campus coffee shop.
Photo credit: Jesse Short Bull


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