Students Rising Above is piloting its Diversity Equity Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Summer Program, a two month long virtual experience that provides relevant skill building and career exploration opportunities. The summer offering is open to all SRA Rising Stars and SOAR students. Every Thursday, eight participants attend a “program session,” that consists of presentations and panel discussions related to navigating difficult conversations, building community, bystander interviewing, and grassroots activism, as well as nonprofit and educational work. The goal of this program is to offer insight into DEIB career paths, and networking opportunities for each participant.
Each session begins with a group check-in, and ends with a mindful, breathing exercise. Students are expected to complete assignments in preparation for each session, which can include articles, podcast episodes, videos or written assignments like:
– How Do You Intervene When you Witness Racism, Bias, and Bigotry in the Workplace (by Janice Gassam Asare)
– Allyship (& Accomplice): The What, Why and How (by Michelle Kim)
– Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How to Talk Them Out and When to Walk Away (with guest Kevin Nadal)
– Why Scholar Loretta Ross is ‘Calling In’ Callout Culture (with guests Alicia Garza and Loretta Ross)
The program will close out with a final assignment the mirrors the SRA #DearCommunity initiative, where students will create art, videos, poetry, essays or open letters to address a social justice-oriented topic. Program lead, Kaitlyn Endo, shares that she hopes students will “feel like they have new found tools that they can use to advocate for themselves. Just as important though, I hope participants felt like they’ve found community in this program, and that they feel empowered and emboldened to continue asking themselves and others difficult questions, and feel empowered to remain curious and search for the answers. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work is ‘a forever thing;’ it’s a lifelong journey, and I know this is only the start for them!”
The DEIB Summer Program was deeply enriched by the presence of valued volunteers: Staff volunteered their time and contributed to sessions; Denisse Velazquez led the Building Community session. Nikon Guffey and Yashica Crawford employed their psychology and counseling background to lead the Navigating Difficult Conversations session. Robin Levi, contributing her rich experiences as learning moments for attendees in the Grassroots Activism & Art Activism Spotlight Session. The program was also joined by SRA alumni: Kathy Liang, Tanea Lunsford, Frederica Webster, Zaria Clemmons, Kiara Collins, and Missy Thomson all contributed to various panel discussions, sharing about their lived experiences and lessons they’ve learned along the way. Several sessions featured new and seasoned volunteers: Olivia White Lopez (Kiva), Elirissa Hui (University of Utah), Angel Guerrero (UCSF), Shay Brayden (YWCA, PDX), Ashley Blackmon (Plenty), and Eric Abercrombie (musician and activist) who even performed a few of his songs to the group!
Written and Published by Sunari Weaver-Anderson