Final Reflections for “Diversity for Global Society”

While over the course of the semester, I’ve come to a number of valuable takeaways, thinking back on the course of a whole has above all reminded me of the importance of continued dialogue around topics of diversity and inclusion.  Of the numerous topics discussed in the course, I had learned of many before.  I had discussed intersectionality, inclusive pedagogy, diversity statements, and other topics in other classes and with colleagues.  Still, I feel I found value in the class as conversation didn’t feel redundant with a fresh take on these issues.

Above all, I feel like this may have been the most valuable takeaway.  Conversations around the same topic are not a repeat of the same information but provide a unique perspective based on who is present in the room.  While people may bring various level of expertise to the table, everyone brings a different lived experience, which adds to the conversation.  Further, as times change and we generate a better understanding of inclusion as a community, language and practices quickly evolve.

In that way, we have never made it when it comes to multicultural competence.  Ideas are changing, and competence rests on a spectrum; while we can advance, there is no final destination or point we can say that we have completely made it.  Hence, this course served as a valuable reminder for me to continue considering multicultural competence, and though reading is a key component of that, I believe dialogue is truly necessary to advancing our understanding.  It is only through discussion with those different than ourselves that we can come to understand how they see the world and interact with it through privileged or oppressed identities.

Hence, my main takeaway from the class is to continue the work and lean into those difficult conversations, listening to understand the perspectives and ideas of others.  Action can bring about change but only if that action is informed by multiple perspectives, including those of folks who may face oppression and not have not typically have the opportunity to inform change.

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Course Wrap Up!

I have truly enjoyed being part of this class this semester. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are areas that I have truly wanted to grow my knowledge in during my time in graduate school. Going into student affairs, I am going to be working with all different types of students from all different background and I think to be an informed just educator, we need to be intentional about learning about equity, diversity, and inclusion and adjusting our practices to align with the knowledge gained.

First off, this course helped me think more intentionally in my day-to-day life about these areas and how I can best serve students. I think as a graduate student, it can be easy to get caught up in the day to day but I think we all need to be taking intentional time to learn about these areas and see what things we can do in our own practice to make higher education a better experience for our students. This course made me stay up to date with higher education news specifically in regards to equity, diversity, and inclusion. I was checking The Chronicle daily as well as other news sources. I am happy to be back in the practice of checking daily on higher education/world news.

As well as the course helped prepare me for the job search and interviewing. It was helpful to be in a headspace of thinking and adjusting practices to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion. I was able to talk about the knowledge I had gained and ways I was adjusting my practice or ways I want to change practice in my next professional role. This class made me conceptualize how I see diversity and the work I am doing especially with having to workshop my diversity statement. I found myself drawing from that during the interview process.

Lastly, I truly enjoyed being in community with our class and being able to have  large group discussions. It was cool to be able to get insight on these areas from students that are in other graduate programs here at Virginia Tech. I appreciated the fact that everyone was really engaged in class conversations — I found it  impactful to be able to listen to other’s ideas, see and hear how views changed, and how they are working on promoting these areas in their programs/life.

Thank you everyone for an engaging and fun semester! I will miss being in class with you all!

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If There’s Anything You Should Know About Me…….

If there’s anything you should know about me (now)….is that this class wasn’t what I expected, it was way more. Before this class, I had always considered myself to be an advocate for diversity and inclusion, specifically in the work place, and specifically regarding gender. Then I took this course. And soon realized that my advocacy was about as deep as puddle. There is so much more to the concept of diversity and inclusion then I ever thought to exist. I had never thought about my unconscious bias, microaggression, or my privileges before.  I also had never really thought about higher from a global perspective.

My perspectives have certainly changed, and I realize I still have much to learn. I think, like everything else in this world, the definition of diversity and inclusion will keep changing, and I want to be able to keep up with it and understand it.  As a future teacher, cultivating equality and providing an inclusive environment is a major priority for me. Without this class, and seeing diversity through other lenses, I don’t think I know what that would have truly meant. This class has inspired me to do more research and more reading and to try to be an active activist!

Let me end by saying that I have truly enjoyed getting to know everyone in the class. It was eye opening to get to know what diversity meant to other people as individuals and what it meant in other fields. While our time together was short, it was enough to make a permanent impact on all of us.  Thanks to everyone for sharing and being open, especially to Dr. Lee and Dr. Grimes for creating such a safe and welcoming class.

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The Importance of Praxis

As I’ve been preparing for and partaking in job interviews this semester, I’ve continually seen questions about inclusion and diversity come up in interviews.  While hearing it repeated time and time again can make it seem like the “obligatory diversity question,” I value hearing institutions make it a priority to ask it as one out of a mere handful of questions during early interviews.  It’s my hope that these institutions are not just asking the question as standard practice but actually valuing how each candidate may contribute to an inclusive environment.

Additionally, the question has made me reflect more critically on my practice and how I operate to promote inclusion and diversity where I work.  As with any job interview question that I can anticipate, I have some talking points ready in my back pocket, and that includes some discussion about specific steps I’ve taken in creating inclusive spaces in residence halls and in working with RA recruitment and selection to ensure the process is minimally impacted by bias.  However, I still find that it is much easier to talk about a general philosophy about equity, inclusion, and diversity than it is to come up with specific examples of how it surfaces in my work.

Considering this has made me think back to my studies of Paulo Friere and critical pedagogy.  While reflection is important in effecting any change, it’s only one half of the process.  In order to achieve praxis, that reflection must be paired with action to generate change.   The action alone is just activism, and the reflection alone is just vocalism.  It’s easy to describe a philosophy but following through on that philosophy to actually make change is more difficult but much more valuable.  Hence, as I move forward, I consider not just how to improve my general philosophy but how to use it to find actionable steps to be taken to improve where I work and live.

However, unlike the job interview question, which is one discreet portion of the interview process, incorporating inclusion should be part of the process.  Hence, I think it’s key to challenge myself to regularly use a lens through all of my work, difficult as it may be to add that priority to my plate at busy times, though perhaps the challenge for us all.

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Diversity course reflection

I did not know what to expect from this course when I signed up for it. Diversity is not something that I had thought much about until I came to graduate school. During my first year as a PhD student, I came to begin to understand the diversity dynamics in academia (or lack thereof), particularly in the sciences. I signed up for this course to learn more about those dynamics and to educate myself on how to be better. How to be more open, how to be more understanding and how to be better to the next generation. This course blew away my expectations. Now, I am, by no means, an expert in diversity and inclusion, and I don’t think I ever can be, but, I can try to think about the circumstances of others. Most importantly, I can try and use my privilege to lift up those around me who aren’t being uplifted by the current system.

Because of this course, I will not only be thinking about what the issues with lacking diversity in the sciences, but I will be trying my best to act and create more inclusive settings around me, as a scientist. Furthermore, I will be advertising this course heavily to my fellow graduate students in the sciences, especially those that come from privilege. In order for us to become well-rounded scientists (and let’s be frank, people), we need to be able to think more openly and act more inclusively.

I imagine that this course at Virginia Tech (GRAD 5214) will be one of the most influential in my career. As opposed to other classes, it has not changed the way I think about my research questions or the science that I want to do, but it has changed the way that I think as a scientist, and it has changed the way that I think about interacting with other scientists. I hope that more scientists take courses like this one during their education, that way we can all work together to try and fix this broken system.

Thank you to the instructors, Dr. Shernita Lee and Dr. Justin Grimes, for this educational experience and for broadening my world view. And thank you to all of the students in the class for creating a welcoming and safe space for discussion, I don’t think I would have gotten much out of this course if it weren’t for the fantastic people involved.

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Diversity Wrap Up

I took this class at the recommendation of one of my fellow program members for my last elective class. I love classes where I can think differently and ask questions, so this class has been very enjoyable. This year, I’ve reflected more on Diversity and Inclusion due to starting a new Assistantship in the Fall that predominantly served underrepresented populations. Being aware of my own identity within that space has led me to do more research and want to learn more about what my students may be experiencing and how I can best support them.

This class made me more aware of inclusion, and how it is not an automatic process. Often when we think about Diversity and Inclusion, we think we need to diversify in order to include. As a society, if we start thinking about including others first, then we create environments that are more welcoming and natural for diversity to be happening.

Moving forward into my next role as a practitioner, I want to keep inclusion at the heart of my professional practice. I want to continuously ask myself, “Who is at the table, who is not at the table, and who doesn’t know there is a table.” I feel like this continuous self-reflection will help me not only support the students with whom I work, but create an inviting space for me to know other students as well.

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Diversity Wrap Up

I will admit I doubted this class.  But it far exceeded my expectations.  I will recommend this class to other because I think there is a lot of value in learning about and discussing the topics we covered.  Thank you all for engaging and bringing everyone’s individual perspectives.

I constantly think about the impostor phenomenon.  That internal feeling that we are phonies or don’t deserve to be somewhere or doing something we are clearly qualified for or deserve to be a part of.  I think about how we all feel like impostors sometimes and what it takes to quell that feeling.  Related to this class I think a lack of diversity and inclusion is often what makes people feel out of place or unwelcome.  Being a women in a male dominated field, walking into a room full of white people as a person of color, being considered a foreigner in your own country as many Asian-Americans do, and the list goes on and on.  Micro-aggressions that are often unnoticed by many create environments for a few that push them away.  Telling someone who looks Asian and was born and raised in the U.S. that their English is good is a prime example.  These micro-aggressions will only promote people’s feelings of being an impostor.

I met a black student from Hampton Roads once.  He said he didn’t even understand how he got into Virginia Tech and he was clearly unsure of his own abilities.  I tried to put him at ease and told him he deserved to be here and that he had earned it with hard work and effort.  I think about him often and I hope that he didn’t give up.  I hope that he found it in himself to be stronger than the feelings that made him feel like an impostor, that made him feel out of place, that made him question his own abilities.  I think about his background and upbringing and I’m sure he has experienced a multitude of instances of society supporting his doubt and not fostering his worth.   It makes me angry to think what we need to overcome and how much change needs to happen in our society to respect everyone’s worth.

This class helped me understand ways that I can be an advocate for diversity and inclusion in my work and in my life.  I still have more to learn, but maybe I can have a positive effect on students in the future.  Maybe I already have and my friend from Hampton Roads will succeed at Virginia Tech and find his place despite the challenges he may have faced.

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Reflections on Global Diversity

I signed up for this class because I needed another 3 credits for the Future Professoriate certificate, and this one fit nicely into my schedule. I felt coming into this class that I was fairly aware of diversity issues facing modern academia. However, this class has really opened my eyes in terms of seeing these issues as they relate to my field, and being aware of my privilege.

This class particularly made me aware of diversity issues outside of race and gender. Accessibility is something I think about a lot now, especially when climbing the stairs to the 4th floor of Smyth, where there is no elevator. I now think about whether I’m placing a burden on students by asking them to come out to the CRC to meet with me. While there is free parking, and the bus stop is right by our building, it still may be a lot to ask a student to travel off the main campus for a meeting.

I also think more about how I can make the environment around me more inclusive. While I’m not afraid to point out blantant instances of bigotry (ex: homophobic slurs, using the R-word), and have a little chat with someone about how their actions are harmful. This class has opened my eyes to other ways I can help create a more inclusive environment, and deal with the more subtle aspects of bigotry and prejudice.

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Reflections on Global Diversity

I signed up for this class because I needed another 3 credits for the Future Professoriate certificate, and this one fit nicely into my schedule. I felt coming into this class that I was fairly aware of diversity issues facing modern academia. However, this class has really opened my eyes in terms of seeing these issues as they relate to my field, and being aware of my privilege.

This class particularly made me aware of diversity issues outside of race and gender. Accessibility is something I think about a lot now, especially when climbing the stairs to the 4th floor of Smyth, where there is no elevator. I now think about whether I’m placing a burden on students by asking them to come out to the CRC to meet with me. While there is free parking, and the bus stop is right by our building, it still may be a lot to ask a student to travel off the main campus for a meeting.

I also think more about how I can make the environment around me more inclusive. While I’m not afraid to point out blantant instances of bigotry (ex: homophobic slurs, using the R-word), and have a little chat with someone about how their actions are harmful. This class has opened my eyes to other ways I can help create a more inclusive environment, and deal with the more subtle aspects of bigotry and prejudice.

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Diversity is important when learning about Diversity

As we wrap up the semester I keep coming back to how thankful I am for the people in our class.  Within my program we have a lot of discussions about the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, however the voices in the room have very similar academic experiences.  While our lived experiences differ, there are epistemological perspectives that grow from the work we do and the things we study that often tends toward a group think situation. In this course folks come from different disciplines with different perspectives and it allowed me to think outside of my education bubble about these issues.  It also points out to me that in higher education we have similar struggles across displaces (lack of faculty representation for instance). Of course the wide variety of lived experiences in our group also lead to great discussion too.

This class as also reinforced the need to follow the news/current events in higher education.  I had gotten lax on following the Chronicle and other news sites but I am working to make that a consistent practice moving forward.  I also strive to be more conscious of the calendar.  I saw the below post in a student affairs group I am in and was reminded how our students are navigating a wide variety of things that are not just school related.  If I can be even slightly more proactive and support of my students I would like to be.

(Image from Facebook posted by Cath Busha)

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