Here at GoodCourse, we’re fortunate to learn from some of the most driven and passionate leaders committed to creating positive change in universities across the USA.
With us, they share their personal experiences that led them to the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) field, the initiatives they are most proud to have implemented, and their pearls of wisdom on how exactly they affect positive change on campus.
If you’re interested in becoming a DEI practitioner or just looking for some practical tips to keep you inspired on your DEI journey, then read on below 👇
Just believe in yourself — much easier said than done, right? Though it can seem clichéd, it’s good practice to reflect on everything you were able to achieve in the past—especially those challenges that seemed insurmountable — to remind yourself of what you’re capable of. Dr Marsha Currin McGriff, Chief Diversity Officer, and Senior Advisor to the University of Florida’s President emphasizes the importance of not only keeping faith in the wider cause but also your power to do great work as an individual:
Establishing a distinction between a work self and a home self is a challenge for many. Ultimately it’s about finding that balance between sharing your authentic self with others and not sacrificing so much that you lose your original passion. Alicia LaPolla, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Brown University, shares how important it is to bring your whole self to work:
Work — just like life — is full of setbacks and disappointments. But it’s important to try and remember why you show up at work everyday, as you battle the daily trials and tribulations at hand. Danushi Fernando, Director of LGBTQ and Gender resources at Vassar College, never gives up and sees failure as an opportunity to reflect on the importance of staying committed to DEI work:
Rich DeCapua is used to juggling a lot at once — simultaneously holding down two roles as Senior Associate Dean of Students at Tufts University and as a board member of the Global Alliance for International Student Advancement (GAISA), a cross-institutional body that informs and advises higher education institutions on the specific needs of international students. But however experienced you are, always be prepared for things to change 👇
Although we may feel personal anger at many of the injustices that continue to prevail in our institutions, just remember the old adage – Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just as Richard Harris, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Northeastern shares, creating meaningful change isn’t something that happens overnight:
Striking a similar note, it’s important to not be demotivated when a project isn’t an overnight success. As brilliant as that would be when working within institutions as large and unwieldy as universities, steering the tanker isn’t always that easy. Wendy Maragh Taylor, Associate Dean of Vassar College’s Office for Student Growth and Engagement, advocates for staying the course, whatever setbacks are faced:
The work we produce is really only as good as ourselves and those around us. A crucial part of developing ourselves and our teams is reflecting on what is and isn’t working, and in turn, what can be done to fix those gaps in our skills and expertise. Nicolette Cagle, Associate Dean of DEI at Duke University, recommends diarizing time for personal reflection:
Working harmoniously with others is the mark of any great leader —particularly in a field as people-centered as higher education. Moreover, collaboration inside and outside of your institution is a brilliant opportunity to learn new skills and build diverse networks. Floyd Cheung, Vice President for the Office for Inclusion and Equity at Smith College, says:
As any university professional will know, education is a lifelong journey. The more you know, the more you don’t know, as the old adage goes. West Point’s LaKeysia Harvin highlights how crucial it is to stay up-to-date with the latest research in the sector, in order to implement the most forwarding-thinking DEI approaches:
Take inspiration from the kid that’s always putting their hand up in class — the people getting involved in extra work are also the ones learning skills and developing professionally. Dan Solworth, Vice-Chancellor of Wellness and Student Success at Northeastern University, agrees:
There we have it – a wealth of thoughtful, inspiring and astute advice from some of the most impressive change-makers in the higher education sector. If you’d like to delve more into our interview series, click on the links below!
Chatting to leaders in the student experience and DEI spheres is always an enjoyable experience for us – you can probably tell from Kitty, our University Lead’s smile below! If you’re a higher education professional who’d like to feature as part of our Interview series, don’t hesitate to get in touch.