Hannah Smotrich

Associate Professor

Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

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’m grateful to be able to work together with such dedicated collaborators to expand student voting, aiming to make what can be an alienating, intimidating experience into one in which new voters feel included and valued. It’s particularly rewarding in those moments when my art and design students begin to see — and realize — their own capacities to increase access and be peer mentors. A student this semester shared how happy he was to help his older brother, who had never voted.”Voting is such an intentionally complicated, complex, and overwhelming process, and you can not blame people, like my brother, for not feeling like they fit into it…Throughout this course it has felt like we were making a difference, but this one felt the most real.” I hope to empower students not only to navigate the voting process, but also to feel confident enough to teach and reassure others.

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?

Truthfully, I find it hard to imagine a time when we wouldn’t all be enriched by doing the work of listening, trying our best to connect with and learn from each other’s experiences, and continuing to work together toward a more just world.

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

I am thankful for the contributions we were able to make to expand voting (amidst this crazy, somewhat surreal semester) and honored that the Creative Campus Voting Project is being recognized. As a designer, I am cognizant of all the ways in which the work can — and needs to — grow and be more inclusive.