Final Thoughts

I think my two biggest takeaways from this course were our discussions on inclusion/diversity and a better understanding as far as what intersectionality is. I think having an understanding of these things allows you to constantly check your privilege, and be cognizant in applying best practices. Being a white male, I am for the most part ignorant on how it feels to be oppressed and excluded, for this reason, I really liked having classroom discussions about these topics where I could expand my knowledge based on the readings and other experiences/input. I understand that these conversations can be difficult but I think they are imperative. I think it really helped me in my understanding and learning about the subject matter at hand. While I don’t think I intentionally exclude or offend others I might actually have just because I was not aware of different types of inequity. I think this class helped me identify some of these groups I was missing and how I can approach things with a better attitude/strategy to make all feel included.  Case in point just because something is equal does not mean it is equitable.  Moving forward I will try my very best to make my classroom a safe space where we can share thoughts, ideas and refer to individuals in the context they would most appreciate.

 

I really liked the DEI workshop we did at the end of the class. I think it is a really good way to examine a specific topic related to you in the context of the course. I got really interested in looking at how we as educators can do a better job being more inclusive to people with disabilities. This workshop is something I would absolutely share with my colleagues. I really appreciate the activites people gave, I think they are a good tool to help educate others about some of the systemic problems we face today.

 

Overall I really enjoyed taking this course and I appreciate all the new tools it added to my tool kit. I do think this course or a course like it should be compulsory.  College is the time and place to be exposed to these unique ideas where we do challenge the social norms and the status quo.

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Reflection

My knowledge and perceptions of diversity and inclusion have always been based on my upbringing and life experiences. My upbringing, family, internships, and friends have all combined to form a personality that attempts to be fair, equitable, and compassionate to all people. However, I am too conscious of my defects to believe that I am devoid of implicit biases.  So, for the majority of this class I was focused on gaining a formal understanding of issues and diversity and using the class discussions to pinpoint where my biases might be. Through our talks, I learned about intersectionality, which is the idea that multiple aspects of a persons identity could compound to form increased advantages or disadvantages.  Ideas like intersectionality were never a part of my high school curriculum or upbringing, so it has been enlightening to learn about the more formal aspects of diversity and inclusion. Generally, I learned that I need to be more conscious in my attempts to be inclusive. It is not simply enough to say that I value inclusion and never learn or grow in the pursuit. I learned that active inclusion is a process that requires constant self reflection and refinement. It also requires a person to be cognizant of their implicit biases and work to correct them over time. I had always valued the ideas of equity and inclusion, but had never put them into action. That is something I will look to correct in the future. There is still so much about diversity and inclusion that I don’t know, and maybe will never know and understand; that being said, this course pushed me beyond my comfort zone and created a space that allowed me to introspect on who I am and how I am perceived by others in terms of my own race and gender. I struggle to understand that the things I say and do can have an affect on others that I never intended but this course pushed me to even accept that about myself and that’s a step in the right direction. Coming into this class I expected to learn about base-line diversity topics but as I am leaving I realize even the small things have stuck with me; such as using the term “guys” to address a room full of both women and men. I plan to continue to use this newfound awareness to continue improving and learning within my own inclusion journey.

Overally, I really enjoyed this class. I expected it to be a very generic and normal class on diversity. However, the class discussions and insights offered by Dr. Grimes and my peers will be invaluable as I continue throughout my career in academia, and I hope that I can become a true champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the future.

 

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Semester Retrospective/Class Prospective

I am sad that this class has come to an end. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot about myself and how I can create a better environment for others. Taking this class has really opened up my eyes, on the topic and discussions of Diversity and Inclusion. I feel that I can take everything that was discussed and share it with others in some way. I have not had many opportunities in life to have these types of discussions, and I am glad this class created that opportunity. I am also grateful for the classroom environment. Everyone in class helped to create and maintain a safe space for each one of us to open up and share our experiences in life. My two biggest takeaways from this class are: (1) Own your experiences, and (2) Diversity does not work without Inclusion.

(1) Own your experiences: I have always had issues with opening up to people and sharing my experiences. I was actually really nervous about these blog posts at the beginning of the semester. The first blog post, I actually rewrote because my first draft I felt uncomfortable sharing too much personal information about myself. I think the idea of blog posts made me uncomfortable because it forced me to be vulnerable and think about my life experiences in a new way.

(2) Diversity does not work without Inclusion: Diversity will bring people of different backgrounds in the same room, but inclusion will keep them in the room. Inclusion is really the glue that keeps people together and manifests a better environment. When you have one without the other, you can have only a diverse environment, but people are unhappy, or a group of people of the same background. Fostering this balance and being able to explain this to others is a big learning idea for me. I came into this class hoping to learn what I can bring back to my organization to help our sisterhood, and this tied everything together.

Moving Forward: To me, this class was the tip of the iceberg. I feel like I have a lot more learning that I need to do. This class really initiated a spark for me to continue understanding how we can work through barriers to create inclusive environments for people. Applying the ideas and concepts we talked during class to different fields of my life (i.e., teaching methods, as a student, as a leader) can allow me to foster better environments for others and make others feel included and happy.

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Class Reflection

Before taking this diversity class, I had previously taken a similar course at my undergraduate program and I did not have a very good experience. The instructor was not the most understanding of other people’s views and it was taught in a style that if you did not agree with him and what he thought, you were wrong. So coming into this course, I was not very thrilled about the experience I was going to have due to that class. However, that wasn’t the case. I gained a lot of knowledge and skills that I hope to apply to my life. There were two that really stuck out to me. I think that the concepts of Diversity vs Inclusion and the ideas of making space and meeting people where they are can lead to so many more avenues that can be expanded upon.

1. Diversity vs Inclusion

I’ve always knew that these two concepts existed, but I never really realized how much they actually played into each other. Just because you’re “diverse” doesn’t mean that you’re inclusive. A campus or work place can be diverse in the sense that there are people with different backgrounds and experiences, but it doesn’t really mean anything if those people aren’t having the opportunity to blend those backgrounds and experiences together. When diversity and inclusion are done right, the group as a whole can be strengthen.

2. Make space and meet people where they are

This class showed me the importance of being able to meet people where they are. This is always something I try to do, but this class reinforced the idea that just because you think you know someone, doesn’t mean you do. As that class went on and we got more comfortable around each other, I think all of us were more willing to share details about ourselves that normally wouldn’t be seen. It just goes to show that you never know what someone is going through and to never judge a book by it’s cover. We do not always know the answers to everything and no one is ever truly an expert. We must constantly expand our understanding and one way to do that is engage with others, especially those who don’t come from the same background as we do.

Moving Forward

I’ve heard the saying that once you think you’re done learning, you immediately start going backwards. I think this thought process really applies to the overall theme of the class. We are all currently in a graduate level program and enthusiastic about learning. I think that we all need to remember that just because we are done with this class, we are never done learning about diversity, equity and inclusion. These conversations are constantly happening and changing. We must be willing to accept and acknowledge the fact that we need to grow as the conversation does. I feel that we must also be willing to start these types of conversations. If we don’t, then who’s to say someone else will?

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Class Reflection

As I reflect on my class experience this semester, it has been nothing but positive. I remember Dr. Grimes asking everyone to share why they took this course on the first day of the class. I also remember my answer as I shared that not only this class was highly recommended by past students (masters and doctoral) from the higher education program, but I wanted to learn more about diversity and inclusion. No amount of knowledge is enough on diversity and inclusion. There is always something new to learn or something to improve.

Prior to enrolling in the master’s of the higher education program at Virginia Tech, I completed a bachelor’s degree at Stockton University which is a small-midsize public institution in southern  New Jersey. At Stockton, I became involved on campus and served in various leadership roles. While training for these roles, I was introduced to diversity and inclusion in depth. Prior to training for various leadership positions, I would say that my knowledge in diversity and inclusion was very surface level that it was almost non-existent.

Since I began the master’s program, the topic of diversity and inclusion has been discussed in all of my classes as well as my graduate assistantship. Because of this, my knowledge in the area of diversity and inclusion has increased tremendously. However, as I mentioned above, the knowledge I gained is never enough. There were things that I learned in this course which I had not learned in the past and/or considered in my work.

Blog posts and class discussions helped me learned about diversity and inclusion in various functional areas which I had no knowledge about and global higher education presentations helped me understand higher education in various parts of the world. This course has helped broaden my knowledge of diversity and inclusion in higher education not only in the U.S. but countries other than U.S. which I am extremely grateful for.

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Final Semester Reflection

THREE KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS SEMESTER

1. I DON’T — AND WILL NEVER — KNOW EVERYTHING

2. MEET PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE

3. HAVE INTEGRITY IN MY WORK

I don’t — and will never — know everything

One of the key takeaways for me in this course was teaching myself to have the humility to realize that I am not an expert in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) work. Having served in numerous roles within higher education, EDI concepts and practices are things I am familiar with. I have trained student and professional staff on these concepts in relation to various functional areas (housing and residence life, fraternity and sorority life, and campus recreation). I even currently hold an employment position with “EDI” in the title. All this experience and practice with EDI and I still have so much more to learn. This course revealed so many areas in which I still lack sufficient understanding. While I may be able to rattle off information within the general context of higher education, I am limited to discussing EDI in fields outside of student affairs. This class was an abrupt and necessary reminder that EDI work is never finished; it is truly a process rather than an achievable goal.

Meet people where they are

Another key takeaway from this course has been learning how to teach others about EDI given their previous exposure to such knowledge. As I have advanced hierarchically in student affairs as an employee and higher education as a student, I interact less with people who are unfamiliar with EDI topics. I am often able to operate within the assumption that the people I am working with have a similar take on information as I do as it relates to EDI in higher education. In this course however, I have learned how EDI manifests in fields outside of the higher education sector. It was really impactful to learn from my peers about what types of injustices exist within their fields of interest.

Have integrity in my work

Finally, in this class I learned how to hold myself accountable in a graduate learning environment. Seeing as though we did not have any quizzes or tests in the course, it was easy to revert into a mindset where I didn’t think the weekly readings were necessary. This forced me to be more intentional in employing strategies that challenged that way of thinking. One of the most effective strategies was taking time to reflect on what integrity meant to me in the classroom. Through that reflection process I realized it was to both my everyone’s benefit if I put in an honest effort. If I wanted any chance at enriching the learning experience for myself or my classmates, I needed to be sure to put in work in and out of the classroom. In the future, this will allow me to retain and apply knowledge from the course to improve my practice and relationships with others.

Moving forward

In the future, I will continue to recall lessons learned in this class in my practice and in my personal life. I intend to continuously check my ego when I begin to think of myself as an “expert” of anything. I will also remember to never settle for knowing enough. Finally, I will continue to reflect on what in mean to have integrity in my work. I am committed to role modeling to my students and my fellow colleagues that learning is not only a degree-seeking practice. As the landscape of higher education and US society continues to change, so must our approach to EDI in our work.

As I proudly stated in my diversity statement, “In the future, I aim to be a student affairs practitioner that leads with humility and empathy in a way that actively affirms, empowers, and welcomes all those I serve. More specifically, I will relentlessly work to provide opportunities and programs that allow all students to find their career passion while pursuing a life of well-being.”

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Final blog post: Semester Retrospective

I was fortunate enough to be part of this class. I always wanted to take a course on diversity and inclusion. Most of the people try and avoid conversations around these topics. There was some introduction about these topics in some of my previous courses like contemporary pedagogy and future professorate. Looking back, I think I made the right decision to choose this course as my elective for future professorate certificate. The course has made me understand the different aspects of diversity, inclusion and, equity. I think personally, I enjoyed discussions and personal experiences in class regarding topics like implicit bias, microaggressions, stereotype threats, and intersectionality.

Dr. Grimes and the other guest lecturers really facilitated the discussions well. I remember when we were talking about critical topics like race and privileges, I thought to myself that this might not go well. But to my surprise, everyone was so tuned by that time in the class that everyone respected each other’s theories and views. That was one class when I was fully attentive and thoroughly moved by every story that was shared. I will never forget the discussion about the historical monuments in UVa and VT. I was surprised to know how little did I know about the history of Virginia Tech. I had never researched about Smithfield plantations before.

I also really liked the concept of learning about higher education in other countries. Although, I have been part of such exercises before in other classes. But, this was more in-depth and also centered on diversity and inclusion. Being from India, I was hoping that I would get a chance to talk about India. However, Sam and I were given to talk on Chinese higher education. Looking back, I think I learned more after researching about China. Also, I have never facilitated a workshop before. So, this also hopefully will be an enriching experience. This is my last chance to put everything on the table – whatever I have learned in the last 4 months.

This class has definitely increased my horizon. I have started understanding the importance of the fact that everybody is unique and brings something new for learning. A diverse environment is a must for better ideas and success. As discussed in the class, it is not only about diversity but also equity and inclusion. It is important to make sure that whatever we do, it is diverse and inclusive. This class will help me a lot since I am going to teach a full course next semester. Diversity and Inclusion course has made me understand the importance of being an unbiased teacher who creates an equal, diverse and inclusive environment for the students to thrive and learn. I hope I am able to do that with my learnings and experiences during the teaching course.  At last, I will try and be vocal about diversity and inclusion as much as possible after this course. There is a definite need for people to learn more about these topics. I hope this will happen in the future.

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Final Semester Reflection

Key Understandings

One of the key takeaways for me during this class was the knowledge gained from different perspectives in the room. For myself, I am continuously thinking about social justice and equity in the frame of higher education, non-profit, or education in general. With this class, it was interesting to learn from a variety of academic disciplines on how equity manifests within in their work. Whether it be a lack of access to transportation or lack of representation of various genders in STEM fields, it was valuable to learn from different academic backgrounds on how equity might look different. Though, as we discussed more it seemed like the majority of the issues that our fields are facing are just small subsets of larger social and power structures that impact all of our fields. My biggest insights were class discussions were we looked at the intersections of those power structures and how they impact and manifest in all of our disciplines and lives, just in different ways.

Another key takeaway that I have learned from the class would have to be the knowledge gained from the global higher education presentations. From the differences in entrance exams, to the price of higher education, to immigration processes, it was eyeopening to learn about the different processes in higher education throughout the world. As someone who wants to go into higher education as a profession, these presentations expanded my view and knowledge of the paths that my students take into higher education. This also prompts me to even reexamine that processes that are present within my current department and how they might be supportive (or not) of international students interacting with our office. I truly enjoyed learning more about how higher education looks like around the world as I know I take on a very United States centered lens of higher education and these presentations expanded that knowledge and depth of understanding of what higher education is and the pathways to it.

Moving Forward

As a result of this class and class discussions, I have learned a great deal about higher education in a global context. Through the presentations and class discussions over a breadth of topics surrounding higher education and equity, I have learned that the power structures within our society impact each of our academic disciplines just in a slightly different way. Whether that be access or lack of diversity representation, these issues need to be addressed across the board. This knowledge will help me better understand the perspective of my future students who will be pursuing multiple career paths and disciplines different from my own. This knowledge will allow me to learn from them what equity looks like in their field and be able to have conversations around the greater societal impact of power structures in and outside of higher education institutions.

I thoroughly enjoyed this class and learning alongside many scholars in the room. I wish everyone a great winter break and spring semester if they are not graduating this winter. I hope that we can all use the conversations and skills that we learned as a result of this class to fight for a more equitable and just world. Have a great break and finals season everyone!

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Semester coming to an end

The class experience has changed throughout the semester for me, which it has changed for the better. When I first enrolled in the class, as many of you know, it was a requirement to take this class. When I first starting to come to the class, I was dreading every moment of it because it was almost three hours long on a Tuesday night. However, after a few weeks I started to enjoy this class because it brought many new perspectives to my eyes that I never even really knew about before this class. I did not have a lot to say on most of the topics, but I enjoyed learning about intersectionality and learning about other issues in that are all around higher education. I believe this class was a very important class that should definitely be made a requirement for other majors, so that other students can also be taught the ways we can change our higher education system and the nation for the betterment of society. This course also has helped me be more prepared moving forward within my degree, but also when I go into the industry to become more inclusive of my peers and superiors. Finally, I am looking forward to our last project because I think it will be an important experience to hear the issues that we as a class were able to come up with in our own degrees  and ways we believe can help influence a change.

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The Last Post: A Farewell

After reading the prompt for this last blog post, “a summary of my class experience”, I decided to look back at my first real blog post of the semester. This was the post that asked what I hoped to get out of the class.

The Goals:
In this blog post, I had stated that “I hope to learn about [the students’] life experiences and how it has shaped who they are today. I also hope to get the opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts relating to topics covered in class”.

Throughout this semester, I feel as though I have accomplished both of the points above. All of the people in the class were so eager and willing to share their stories. I am so grateful that everyone in the room felt safe and comfortable enough to share their personal experiences. In each class meet up, I got to take a little peek into what shaped the person who was sharing and sitting around the tables with me. Even though I personally am not the most talkative or outspoken person, I appreciated the encouraged talk time when I thought of some idea that I needed to communicate. I am so very thankful for the safe space created by everyone in the room because without it I would not have been willing to share.

Another goal of mine, stated in my earlier blog post, was that I had hoped to be sponge-like, absorbing any and all discussed content. I feel as though I accomplished this goal very well. I did my best to actively listen in class and take in all of the ideas people provided, as well as the weekly readings assigned on Canvas. I pride myself on being open-minded and I believe I stayed that way throughout the semester by taking in all of the information.

The last goal in my blog was to gain practical knowledge and “to be overall more inclusive and willing to talk about the issues that are common and constantly seen surrounding diversity, on and off campus”. During this class, I gained fantastic practical awareness about how to approach topics surrounding diversity and how important it is to do so.

Key Insight:
Throughout the semester, I learned a ton of extremely valuable insights into diversity, equity, and inclusion. I think the concept that came as the most shocking to me was how poorly we are approaching the topics in regard to higher education as a whole. Now don’t get me wrong, there are people, like Dr. Grimes, who invest time and energy into these topics, but they seem to come few and far between. If we are going to change our cultural views on diversity, equity, and inclusion, then we need to reach more people. A greater population of people need to be required to take a class such as this one and want to share their new knowledge. In order for there to be change, there needs to be shared knowledge as well as the willingness to learn. One day I hope that is the case.

As for my personal contribution, I will try my best to bring up concepts regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion where I see fit. I will not be afraid to respectfully speak my mind when I encounter something unjust or a situation where equity is not being applied.

Overall, I really am thankful for all the tools this class has given me and will forever continue to add more to my diversity, equity, and inclusion toolbox.

-HD

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