Reflecting on this semester, I am most grateful for the opportunity this class afforded me to learn from students from different disciplines and backgrounds. It is easy to feel siloed within our departments during graduate school, and so our class discussions this semester have allowed me to hear new perspectives and ideas. Based on our conversations, it seems like different disciplines face different issues related to diversity and inclusion. I think that acquiring a more holistic understanding of challenges within academia has been enlightening.
Given that I am now in my fifth year of graduate school, I have had some level of exposure to most of the ideas and concepts that were introduced in class. However, hearing new voices and reading new papers on these topics was a reminder that there is always more to learn. Each class discussion and course reading offered examples, perspectives, or definitions that were new to me. While I learned a lot this semester, I know that this is not the end of my training in diversity and inclusion, and it will be a lifelong commitment to better understanding these issues and working to improve conditions for marginalized groups in academia.
This end of this course has made me reflect upon how my involvement in diversity and inclusion initiatives will look in the future. This summer, I will start as a postdoctoral fellow at a new university. This new position will be strange in the sense that I am not a student, but also not a faculty member. Thus, I won’t be taking classes such as this one and will have to seek out further education on diversity and inclusion in different spaces. I hope that these will be easy to find within my new department, or through university-wide initiatives, but it is still unclear.
Nonetheless, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had at Virgina Tech to continue to grow and create more inclusivity in my lab and classroom.