Kwesi J. Rutledge

4th Year PhD Student, Electrical and Computer Engineering

College of Engineering

Being your best DEI self: Think of a time when you were at your best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. What happened? Who was there? Why did you feel at your best?

I believe I was at my best in my work to advance DEI when I co-facilitated a workshop on the basics of Non-Optical Allyship for my student organization, Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering. We worked through tough conversations about privilege, performative activism, and how to be genuine allies over the long-term. It sparked a great deal of reflection and vulnerability in our community and brought us closer to our mission as an organization. It made me realize that some of the most important DEI work lies in listening to others, not speaking over them.

Wishes for the future: How would you imagine your environment needing to be for you to feel that you don’t have to do DEI work anymore?

I imagine that a space where DEI work is unnecessary is a space where there is empathy and mutual understanding between everyone in this community, and that anyone of any identity has assurance that if they speak, their voice will be heard.

What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?

To me, being a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards means that I’m on the right track to keep pushing forward and showing up for DEI causes in all the spaces I inhabit. I’m honored to be recognized in this way and hope to continue to live up to it.