Diversity and Inclusion

Personal comment on diversity:

As a Latina woman, I walk in the shoes of a minority on a daily basis, and I am very attuned to the issues of diversity and inclusion that many students, staff, and faculty face each day. I am a “first generation college student”; my parents knew about the significance of getting an education in life, so they instilled the importance of education to my siblings and myself. Going to college was not optional; it was something we had to do. I had several jobs during my formative years and it was sometimes difficult for me to focus on my studies. However, with perseverance, and the encouragement and support of my family and professors, I prevailed. I received a Masters and a Ph.D. degree in a field dominated by men. This is my story and this is the story I tell my students the first day of classes since I began teaching more than three decades ago. I do this to let them know that everything is possible if you put in the time, you study, and ask for help: I am a living example, as I stand in front of them lecturing, of their own potential for success. I believe that this type of role model is essential for students who have faced difficulties, perhaps not had positive role models, and may feel inadequate or overwhelmed by the pressures and demands of the university environment.

Today, university classrooms and labs comprise students drawn from very diverse socio-economic backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, cultures, races, and religions. Although much progress has been made, at every university we are not immune from issues that arise from increased diversity. Therefore, as an educator, I have the obligation to implement practices that enable students to thrive academically and to develop their own identity and experiences. I feel very strongly about this therefore I make sure that my classes and lab are the most inclusive possible and provide an open environment where all students can achieve their best and where I can address their individual needs. My experience as a member of an underrepresented group has helped me to build tools for mentoring students who face similar challenges. This has also made me realize that not all “minorities” fit the same model, as each student has different perspectives and cultural backgrounds. Thus, I seek opportunities to learn from them, to know them in a significant way, and to prepare myself to interact with students with different backgrounds. So far, I have mentored and advised undergraduate and graduate students from the US, Argentina, Mexico, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Lebanon, Singapore, Brazil, and Colombia, the majority of them females.

I fervently believe that a diverse and inclusive campus is essential for the overall success of every institution of higher learning. I am passionate about inclusiveness and I am committed to working towards achieving equity and enhancing diversity not only for students but also for colleagues and staff members.

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