Well Said: Los Jets and the revitalization of a small North Carolina town

On this week’s episode, associate professor Paul Cuadros shares how he applies lessons he learned in Siler City to developing the Latinx community on campus.

Paul Cuadros has been coaching the soccer team at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City for so long that some former players have kids on the current team.

“I feel like I’m sort of their grandfather coach,” said Cuadros, who is also an associate professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

When Cuadros first arrived in Siler City in 1999 to report on immigration, there was no soccer program at the school. After coaching in the local soccer league for a couple of years, he launched the high school’s program in 2002 and won a state championship in 2004.

Cuadros has used the lessons from creating that program and leading it to a championship in many ways. He wrote a book, “A Home on the Field,” which led to a documentary series produced by Jennifer Lopez.

He’s also been able to see the impact that visibility, leadership and development can have on a community — lessons he’s brought back to campus by creating various organizations for Latinx faculty, staff and students. Those endeavors include the Carolina Latinx Center, which opened in July and will hold its official ribbon-cutting on Oct. 4.

“I’m going to feel elated,” Cuadros said of the upcoming ceremony. “We need to have these sorts of institutions to establish ourselves, to have a presence and to develop leadership.”

On this week’s episode, Cuadros explains why he got involved in Siler City and how his involvement there has had an impact on campus.

This episode of Well Said can be heard in the player above, on SoundCloud, Spotify or wherever podcasts are played.

Join us every Wednesday for Well Said to hear from students, faculty, staff and alumni. Each week, you’ll learn what’s going on in classrooms, labs and around campus, and how it pertains to the local, national and international headlines.

Read a transcript of the episode.