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IU Northwest students attend Diversity Research Symposium at Ball State University

A dozen students inspired by lessons in creating inclusive environments, the benefits of diversity, related careers, and more

Wednesday Oct 04, 2017

Last month, the IU Northwest Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (ODEMA) sponsored lodging, travel, and registration for a dozen IU Northwest students to attend the 2017 Diversity Research Symposium (DRS) at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.  

The symposium, now in its ninth year, brings together individuals from all disciplines who are interested in cultural diversity issues. It strives to encourage the infusion of cultural diversity into academic research, curricula, and professional development.

Praniece Nicholson, a junior majoring in psychology, said the symposium, titled “Creating Brave Spaces for Inclusion, Equity and Justice,” was as informative as it was inspirational. She learned practical steps for creating an inclusive environment in social and academic settings.

“I learned that equity and inclusivity are important because when people feel excluded, they are more likely to struggle, withdraw, and rebel, but when they feel included, they are more likely to put forward their best selves and succeed,” she said.

Nicholson also noted the impact of the keynote speaker, Angela Davis, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and authority on feminist studies from the University of California Santa Cruz, who spoke about injustice and prison as a “system of punishment.”

“She made me want to be a part of the change, to ask myself, ‘what can I do?’ and then find a way to do it.”

James Wallace, director of ODEMA, said the trip offered a unique opportunity for students to explore the landscape of an educational symposium for the first time.

“This trip was definitely life-changing for me,” said Ariana Villarreal, a first-year student majoring in fine arts. “Hearing Angela Davis speak felt so surreal. I previously only knew a little about her and when I learned more about her background, I was filled with excitement and drawn to her reflections on the world and the many things  she's been through.”

Adeola Oladeinde, a sophomore communication major, came away with a wealth of information and a new outlook.

“I enjoyed the mini seminars where I learned about different careers in depth. It was a great opportunity to make friends, acquire new information, and learn new things about yourself.”

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