2nd Year Undergraduate Student, Mechanical 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?
As the Allyship Chair on the executive board of Girl Up Michigan as well as a member of the Panhellenic DEI Taskforce and Chi Omega’s DEI Committee and executive board, I have done my best so far as a student at Michigan to encourage everyone to think about and discuss DEI in professional and personal spaces to improve communities for all identities.
Specifically, I believe I was at my best at advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the panhellenic environment through Chi Omega. Many students are unsure about greek life, as it has historically been made up of mostly higher class, white students. When joining greek life as a POC and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I knew my goal would be to change the narrative and re-establish this community as one for all identities.
When I first joined Chi Omega’s DEI taskforce, I implemented implicit bias training by reaching out to our DEI chair. To do this, I made an activity with our DEI chair to have every member participate in implicit bias tests and a discussion regarding the results of their tests. After doing this, I decided to take action to argue against bylaws that targeted lower class students unfairly.
Knowing that many students drop due to financial struggles, I did not believe it was fair to have the bylaw in place that students who drop do not get their refundable dues back. While members that do not drop get their refundable dues back following graduation, members who drop were not given the same right. I believed this was inequitable as it directly contradicts the reason why members may have to drop. While financial help and need-based/merit-based scholarships are available, every member still deserves their dues back. This allows us to create a space for lower class students to join our community without financial stress. While the change of this bylaw has yet to take place, I am currently in conversation with our advisors to make it change, and plan on implementing it in the near future as I have recently joined the executive board of the sorority.
Leading the implementation of these few actions with my sorority sisters, executive board, Chi Omega advisors, and members of the DEI committee allowed me to feel as though I made a large impact on the chapter and community as a whole already, not even having been in the community for a year. This made me feel at my best because I knew I did not want to be part of a community that does not make changes to be more equitable or address DEI, and I only wanted to be a part of it if I could change it from the inside. My actions so far have shown that I can change the community from the inside and make it a happier place for all identities.
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?
While I know the perfect world may never exist, I believe if all individual humans on this planet treat and value each other equally, I would no longer have to push DEI efforts on every community I am involved in. Change comes from the inside, and it only takes one negative person for there to be inequity in this world. My belief is that every identity matters and should be treated equally. Once every human has positive intentions, systemic racism, fatphobia, homophobia, and all other factors contributing to the current lack of DEI, will cease to exist and the world will be re-established with equitable measures for all.
What does it mean to you to be a recipient of the MLK Spirit Awards?
Being a recipient of the MLK Spirit Award will be incredibly rewarding and push me to continue my DEI efforts and encourage me to believe I have made a positive impact on my community so far. While I will always commit to DEI, no matter the environment, it has been difficult to propel my ideas forward at times due to backlash from those who may not understand the need for DEI. Receiving this award will speak volumes about my work, and I believe my commitment to DEI outside of DEI-focused environments is incredibly deserving. Being a recipient of the MLK Spirit Award means I have not only been an active member in DEI-focused environments, but I have also successfully brought DEI into the classroom, my extracurricular and social communities, and the world as a whole.