Building a community of diversity and inclusion
Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Engagement & Inclusive Excellence to formulate a Diversity Peer Educator Program at the institution I currently work at. This was a valuable experience that created a pathway for students, faculty and staff to be educated on diverse topics in order to create an inclusive campus. For me, this experience was necessary to my work because as I work towards education equity, a significant chunk of that work has to be dedicated to creating opportunity for exposure and education. I was able to work with students to better understand their experiences and the role that their various identities play within that, and I was able to connect with campus partners to maximize impact.
Working on such an initiative really caused me to think from a systems level and work to ensure that such a program could be both impactful and sustainable. Through the creation of the Diversity Peer Educator Program, the entire campus can partake in workshops and discussions that are based around allyship, the important of values and expressing them to others, understanding our various privileges, and deconstructing stereotypes. As our world grows increasingly diverse it is important that there is a sense of community and acceptance. This program provides students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to grow their level of knowledge and sense of belonging.
Work with a multitude of campus partners across various departments
Better understand the various dimensions of the students of today, leading to a gain in understanding and context
Ability to hone in on the feelings of others, leading to an increase an empathy and advocacy
Working with other key campus partners to create the Diversity Peer Educator Program was impactful for me in a number of ways, with an increase in my sense of advocacy and empathy being at the forefront. Many cases, we learn about best practices to serve students without truly conceptualizing why it is important to best serve students. With my institution being considered the most diverse institution in the state of South Carolina, it is extremely important that we are keeping a pulse on what new initiatives, forms of support and resources are needed to continue that work. I’ve gained so much knowledge directly from students that grew my desire to constantly advocate and create inclusive environments for them. Because of this experience, I will always listen to students and understand what comes with their various identities.
From this experience, much of the knowledge, data and findings was utilized to create an e-Learning environment within this program that emphasized inclusion and diversity. You can click here to access the lesson plans associated with the topic.