My commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in academia is grounded in my personal experiences. However, I do not have experience regarding being racially targeted or discriminated against. I come from a two parent Caucasian home where both of my parents worked so my sister and I could have the nicest things and go to the nicest schools. I did have friends from different ethnicities and backgrounds. My friends would often talk to me about their families. My friends and their families were often met with unjust bias and prejudice. I did not relate to them in this way. I was not made to feel insignificant or peripheral due to my identity.
However, I did not grow up avoidant of bias and prejudice. I was overweight and bullied throughout my elementary and middle school years. Though I did not relate to the discrimination my friends and their families endured, I could relate to them in feeling ostracized and alone.
After slimming down in high school, I became sensitive to how people around me were treated. I instantly related to peers who were treated unfairly. And, during that time, I developed empathy for people, especially those who were ignored and marginalized. I became compassionate and I became responsive. It is because of those experiences that I wanted to help those who were stigmatized or discriminated against due to gender, race, social class, disability and age. This is one of many reasons why I became a social worker.
As a social worker I have had to be culturally competent. I have had to identify problematic situations and unreasonable communal boundaries, rise above language barriers and misunderstandings and understand the nuance of foster family dynamics across ethnicities. I have had to be sympathetic to the rights of minors with diverse cultural backgrounds.
I have had the privilege of working with clients with various racial or ethnic backgrounds, clients affected by poverty and clients with different sexual orientations. I have helped clients with differing racial or ethnic backgrounds by teaching and promoting racial harmony through educational trainings and workshops. I have worked meticulously with clients and their families experiencing hardship by providing resources and therapeutic assistance. I have helped LGBT clients by promoting human rights and one-on-one counseling. I have also connected clients to youth centers and organizations. I continue to track their outcomes, adjust treatment plans and provide interventions on an ongoing basis.
In addition to working with and helping people who feel unfairly oppressed, I am also providing counseling when necessary to help adults and youth in crisis. I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, including those afflicted with learning disabilities, behavioral challenges, and individuals with Axis I and Axis II disorders. I have worked diligently to help these individuals learn coping skills, while remaining supportive and sensitive to each distinctive personality. I continue to serve these individuals on a daily basis.
I am also counseling underrepresented undergraduates to be emotionally and intellectually independent prior to, and after, exiting the foster care system. One way I do this is by equipping and encouraging teenage foster children to consider higher education after earning their high school diplomas. I achieve this is by going over financial aid and how it works, collecting information on various colleges, majors and careers and matching their academic achievements and career goals to local colleges. My ongoing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is unyielding and genuine. I do not see diversity as an abstraction or a statistic. Diversity is concrete. Diversity is part of my life.