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

USA Needs International Students in Higher Education

 

Topic of Interest:

There are a lot of different issues arising in higher education that I could have discussed for my blog. After a long look at my field and program, animal and poultry science, I decided to research and comment on international students in higher education because I see a lack in the animal science program. 

International Students in Higher Education:

At my undergraduate college, there was little emphasis placed on international students. We only had a handful of students who were not from the United States and most of them seemed to be recruited to play sports. I was not involved in sports, other than being a spectator, and didn’t know many of the international students. However, when I was lucky enough to have a class with an international student, I appreciated my time in class. 

I love learning about the different perspectives people have and the cultures people grew up in. I like to hear about how growing up in a country other than the United States has shaped someone. I fully and wholeheartedly believe that I gain something of value from being in a class and learning from international students. 

According to Grawe, the United States also gains something from international students. Grawe states, “international students contribute substantially to the financial health of their colleges and universities, local communities, and state economies” (2019). I was unaware of just how much international students contribute financially to a university. What I also found interesting was the fact that “only one in six international students receive institutional aid” (Grawe, 2019). I am appalled at that number, but am sad to say I never knew how much of an issue scholarships to international students. 

The Issue:

In my opinion, international students have a lot of unnecessary hoops they need to jump through in order to be eligible and receive higher education in the United States. I am not too familiar with the process, but from what I have heard in class and from peers, there are a lot of tests and costs involved. 

Over the past few years, the number of international students that attend a university to receive higher education in the United States has declined. Grawe states, “the nearly 10% reduction in new students seen in the two years beginning in 2016/17 is notable given the incredible consistency of growth in this market seen in the previous 69 years” (2019). 

What This Means for Animal Science:

I think in order to be the best you can be, you need to need a perspective check and to have an open mind. I don’t know a lot about livestock or the industry, but from what I have gathered from lectures, articles, and peers, the United States runs things differently than other countries. Now, I am not saying one way is better than the other, but I do think in order to improve, and there is always room for improvement, we need to take into consideration all the ways to do something. 

From what I have seen in Animal and Poultry Sciences (APSC) thus far is a lack of diversity. I have also met only one international student in the program, that is not to say there isn’t more, I just have yet to personally meet others. Therefore, if the country’s percentage of international students is declining this means the program’s numbers will also decline. I believe this is when we will run into issues. 

A national decrease in international students means that a majority of the students in APSC will come from similar backgrounds and have similar perspectives. How do we improve and get better if no one comes in and has differing opinions on how things can be run? Who will push us to do research on the best method if the methods aren’t being questioned? 

To me, the decrease in international students is a tragedy that the United States needs to really look at. We need international students for many reasons and not just for our financial gain. I truly hope one day the process to come to the United States to gain a higher education will be easier, so we may continue to learn and grow together. 

Video

I also stumbled upon this video while doing research about international students in higher education. I would love to hear opinions on what people think of the video.

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-International-Students-Are/243860

 

Sources

Grawe, Nathan, et al. “International Students and U.S. Higher Education.” Econofact, The Fletcher School Tufts University, 17 July 2019, https://econofact.org/international-students-and-u-s-higher-education.

Kelderman, Eric. “Why International Students Are Important at Indiana U.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 July 2018, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Why-International-Students-Are/243860.

 

Intersectionality

The Why:

Despite having a class discussion, reading multiple articles, and watching various YouTube videos on intersectionality, I still have a vague sense of the word. Before this class, I had never encountered the word. My lack of comprehension might speak to my identity and personal intersectionality. My most pronounced characteristics are my race, which is white, and my gender, female. Because this is what everyone sees, the biggest form of oppression I feel comes from my gender. I wonder if this is why the term is harder for me to fully understand.

This specific prompt, “talk about how you will use intersectionality in your work/practice”, at first glance struck me as odd. I had honestly not thought of the term, intersectionality, as being one to “use”. However, after a lot of consideration, I think I have come to a decision for my future use with this new word. In the following paragraphs, I will do my best to address the prompt at hand and attempt to explain how I will use intersectionality in the future.

Intersectionality:

According to Coleman, “intersectionality, [is] a concept that remains confusing to some despite steadily growing awareness of it” (2019).

To me, intersectionality is all about a person’s characteristics and identities. It is about the groups they consider themselves to be apart of and how those groups overlap. The overlap is the key to intersectionality. This overlapping of group identities can create more severe discrimination. This means that every individual person has a significant level of prejudice that is personally unique (Coleman, 2019).

Another interesting aspect I found, while research intersectionality, is its relationship and involvement in regard to feminism. I found a lot of articles that categorize intersectionality as being a feminist term and only revolving around women. Which, to me, seems odd. I understand that it originated because of women, but I don’t think it is only relevant to women. I think intersectionality covers any and all genders, as well as a plethora of other personal characteristics. It should not strictly be a female term.

Future:

After having many ideas, thoughts, and questions about intersectionality, I have come to a conclusion. I think the best way to use the term, intersectionality, is to be consciously aware of it. You can be aware of intersectionality not only in the workplace, but also everywhere else. It surrounds us on a daily basis.

For me personally, being consciously aware of intersectionality means to not categorize people in a single group because they are an individual first. I was aware of individuality prior to learning about intersectionality, but now I am even more aware of how it plays a role in everyone’s life. We are all so individually unique and experience life so differently because of it.

While I was watching YouTube videos on intersectionality, I stumbled upon this video that claimed intersectionality was a hoax. The person talking in the video believes that intersectionality groups us into categories of oppression instead of treating everyone as an individual. I think that is furthest from the truth. To me, intersectionality tries to look at everyone’s unique personal groups and, more specifically, their overlap. The link to the video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc7VUoytoU4 if you would like to watch it. I found it to be a very interesting perspective.

With my new found information, I think the best thing I can do in the future is to talk about what intersectionality is. I would be willing to guess there are a decent amount of people in the world who have never heard of intersectionality. In my future workplace, I hope to provide an opportunity for others to learn what intersectionality is and how it may affect teammates and coworkers. I will do my best to openly communicate my ideas and hopefully create a safe place for discussion that will broaden the minds of fellow employees. I will also make a conscious effort to avoid grouping people and listen to people when they feel discriminated against because of their intersectionality.

Thanks for reading.

-HD

 

Sources

Coleman, Arica L. “What Is Intersectionality? A Brief History of the Theory.” Time, Time, 29 Mar. 2019, https://time.com/5560575/intersectionality-theory/.

It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World

I am currently in the animal and poultry science department, however, as I have mentioned before, my real passion is dogs. In the working dog world, there are more male trainers than there are female trainers. Over the past years, women have become more and more involved in training, but there is still not equality.

When men enter the working dog world they are welcomed with open arms because they are another body to be put in a bite suit or hold the end of a leash for a large dog. On the other hand, when women show an interest in working dog training they are fought with questions and comments such as “You know you can’t pet the dog, right?” or “Are you sure you can handle that dog?”.

Women who want to succeed in the working dog world have to prove that they belong there. Like Purgason states in the article, women need to give 200% to prove their worth and gain respect from their male counterparts. They not only have to work hard to train the dogs, but they have to work even harder to prove that they deserve to be there.

The dogs that are apart of the working dog community are generally strong dogs with crazy amounts of drive. This means that they will do just about anything in their power to get to a decoy or a toy. Now, I am not saying that there isn’t a physical difference between men and women and their bodies. I am fully aware that women need to be in shape and strong to be able to handle strong, crazy dogs, but so do men. What I don’t quite understand is not believing in their training capabilities with hard dogs.

To combat this disadvantage, I have kept my head down. I have watched videos, listened to podcasts, read books, and asked questions. I have reached out to and made connections with people who have a name in the industry and have knowledge they are willing to share with me. I will continue to fight my way into the industry until I am where I want to be. I have to let the dogs I train be proof of what I can do.

The link below is an article from a woman in the industry about female trainers. I find the article very encouraging.
https://www.highlandcanine.com/train-like-a-girl-how-women-are-revolutionizing-the-working-dog-industry/

 

Stereotype Threat

The Prompt:

No matter who you are, where you come from, or the color of your skin, you are faced with stereotypes. This also then means you have inherently been faced with a concept called stereotype threat. Before this blog was assigned, I had no concept of stereotype threat. I had never heard of the phrase prior to reading the blog topic. Now, as I reflect on my life experiences, I realize that even though I am new to the idea, it has impacted my life. In this blog post, I will talk about my struggles and encounters with stereotype threat.

Stereotype and Stereotype Threat Defined:

The terms I believe need to be defined before moving on are stereotype and stereotype threat. Put simply, a stereotype is “a network of belief [that] develops around the group in question” (Blumenfeld & Raymond, p. 23). Personally, I think stereotypes are generally based off of superficial characteristics that have minimal ground to stand on.

Now, stereotype threat reminds me of a self-fulfilling prophecy or labeling theory. To me, all three of these words mean that when a person hears a stereotype or label about a characteristic they embody, the person might unconsciously conform to that stereotype. You are essentially making yourself fit a box. Schmader and Hall claim a stereotype threat “occurs when individuals become concerned that they might confirm a negative stereotype about their group” (2014, p. 30). They also state “the mere awareness of these stereotypes by those who are stigmatized can systematically impair performance and perpetuate the appearance of group differences in ability” (2014, p. 30).

The Impact:

Throughout my twenty-one years of life, I have encountered minimal stereotypes and stereotype threat. However, there is one area of my life where I have seen the most setbacks because of stereotypes, causing stereotype threat. This area is in the dog world.

Dogs are a huge part of my life, and more specifically, working dogs. Working dogs are dogs who are trained for a specific job. These jobs include things such as police canines, explosive detection dogs, narcotic detection dogs, and search and rescue dogs. As I am sure you can imagine, these dogs have an intensity that might be intimidating to some people.

For years, the working dog world has been, and still is, run by men. Just recently, women are becoming more and more involved. Some women have succeeded, while others have not. In the working dog world, there are a lot of preconceived notions about how a dog should be trained. Unfortunately, a lot of the men in this area see women as not being strong enough or hard enough to train and work with these dogs. Cue the stereotype threat.

The women who do tend to succeed in the working dog world are the ones who are seen as “one of the guys”. They are the women who, generally, use harsh methods and conform to the “norm”. I, on the other hand, want to participate in neither of those things.

My goal is to make it into the working dog world without having to change my methods and frame of mind in regard to how the dogs are trained. Unfortunately, because of this, I have struggled. I felt pressure to conform to the “norm” so that I do not “confirm a negative stereotype” (Schmader & Hall, p. 30) about female trainers. I believe I have even performed less than my best because I was worried about confirming stereotypes of being a girl who is not cut out for hard dogs. When in reality, I don’t even know if the men who were watching were judging me in this way.

Recently, I have tried to turn this impact into something positive. I have reached out to and look up to women who have made it big with working dogs and continue to expand my knowledge. Just because the working dog world is “a man’s world” does not mean they can keep me out of it. I will not let stereotype threat keep me from reaching my goals.

The Future:

I am not sure what my future holds at this point in time. However, I have always considered opening my own dog-something business. With that being said, I will want to hire the best of the best as far as employees go. Learning about stereotype threat will be a fantastic asset to a possible business. Now that I know it is alive, and unfortunately well, I can try to reduce its appearance.

In a perfect world, where I am about to open my own business, I will take time to have employees attend diversity training among other training revolved around diversity and stereotypes.

For the time being, until I am wealthy enough to open a business, I will be cognizant of my personal stereotype threats and try not to fall to them. I continue to keep my head up and work hard to show the people in my field what I am capable of.

 

Canvas References

Blumenfeld, W J. & Raymond, D. Prejudice and                                          Discrimination, 21-29.

Schmader, T., & Hall, W. M. (2014). Stereotype Threat in                        School and at Work: Putting Science Into Practice. Policy              Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(1), 30-37.

The Reason Behind Diversity for a Global Society

The Prompt

There are many reasons for a student to take a class about diversity. Most of these reasons, I assume, are personal, while some are related to department or certification requirements. In the following paragraphs, I will address my personal reasons for signing up for Diversity for a Global Society.

Underlying Reason

While emailing back and forth with my graduate advisor, I had asked her what courses were required to receive a master’s degree in animal and poultry sciences. My research advisor had mentioned that there were very few required courses that I would need to take and the rest would be completely up to my desires and interests. Before looking over the required courses, I assumed they would be related to animal science. Little did I know I would have to take a diversity course, however, I was pleasantly surprised.
Before glancing at the course description, or times offered, I decided that I would try to “get it out of the way” during my first semester on campus. I figured it would be a good way to get to know a few people outside of animal and poultry sciences. Other thoughts were also running through my mind as I clicked register on Hokie Spa.  I started thinking about how this would be a great class, considering I grew up and attended undergrad in a community with little diversity. The majority of the people I was surrounded by had the same skin color, same religion, and the same ethnicity. I didn’t get exposed to a diverse anything for the first 20 or so years of my life.

The Goal

Even though we have only met for class twice, I feel as though I have already learned an incredible amount information, from not only the class readings and discussions, but also the diverse student population that makes up the class. Some of the most interesting things, to me, that have been covered in class so far include the cycle of socialization and the difference between equity and equality.  In classes and experiences in life, I knew there was a way in which humans socialize and learn “appropriate” behaviors,  but I had never considered it to be a concept put to words.

Throughout the next 13, or so, weeks, I hope to make personal connections with Dr. Grimes and the students in the class. I hope to learn about their 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. 

As far a class content is concerned, I hope to be a sponge. A personal goal of mine is to stay open and accept new ideas and ways of thinking in regard to diversity and the world. By the end of the semester, I truly hope that the way I think about and approach diversity has changed, or I know how to commit to change.  Currently, I am knowledgeable when it comes to words and definitions revolving around diversity. What I hope to get out of this class is practical application. I want to be overall more inclusive and willing to talk about the issues that are common and constantly seen surrounding diversity, on and off campus.

Intro Blog Post

Hi everyone, my name is Hannah Decker. I use the pronouns she/her. I am a first-year master’s student in the animal and poultry science department. I am originally from Boise, Idaho and completed my undergrad degree in Montana at a tiny, private liberal arts college. I received a B.A. in Anthrozoology. Anthrozoology is the study of human-animal interactions and relationships, so essentially it is the study of the human-animal bond. The reason I am at Virginia Tech is to start a citizen science program in Blacksburg and the surrounding areas. I will be teaching the community how to train their dogs to, hopefully, be conservation scent detection canines. Before a few weeks ago, I had never been to Virginia, but I look forward to exploring Blacksburg and this part of the country. During my free time, I train my service dog in training and enjoy walking around town. I look forward to getting to know everyone in the class and exploring the different avenues of diversity with you all.

The picture below is of me and a dog I trained in undergrad. She is now the first known archaeological scent detection canine.