The goals of the Diversity and Inclusion Fellows Program are to cultivate a network of ambassadors who will advance a culture of inclusive excellence, and to create an environment where people feel safe, comfortable, and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion at Georgia Tech.
A few of the 2019 Fellows share their insights and experience as participants in the program below.
Family Storytime at the Library by Diana Roldan
The Inclusion and Diversity fellowship has been a great experience for us. It has given us the opportunity to learn more about the issues that we care about. This was an important opportunity because, in our normal lives, we often focus in a single aspect of things that we believe can be improved. However, I have now learned that any issue that I might see in front of me is probably only one dimension of a much more complex situation. In this regard, the fellowship became an opportunity for me to learn about how to approach a topic in a more holistic way, or at least to make sure I consider different aspects of it. This holistic or more comprehensive approach, however, happened only after we sat down and talk with and listened to the people we were meaning work for. It often turns out that even if we considered ourselves a part of the same group, we all have different needs and different perspectives on or ideas about what the issues are and what the solutions can be.
We not only got to learn more about the status of families that live on campus and graduate students that become parents, but we also got to learn a lot about others groups of people that are facing inclusion issues. In this regard, the opportunity of the fellowship has been invaluable, because even though there may be a lot of things happening out there, that might not necessarily affect me, this does not mean I should not be aware of their existence.
I think that the main thing I have learned this year is that inclusion and diversity start with awareness, the awareness that others exist, that others, who may be like you, may still have a different take on your issues, and that sometime there are resources or key players out there that are not yet aware of each other’s existence, and that only need for someone to connect them.
ABLE Alliance by Kiera Patterson
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. Along with Cassie Mitchell, Anna Kirkpatrick, we grouped together to discuss what opportunities we saw that could be addressed in terms of accessibility. As Georgia Tech faculty and students, we each have felt there was a strong need to build a community of people with disabilities and their allies. We connected with Trey Quinn, Annabelle Alfonso, and Dr. Rinehart to create ABLE Alliance. Our goal is to provide support and resources for people with disabilities through mentorship, professional development, and social events. We have had two kickoffs (spring and fall), currently have 54 members, and have recently launched our website where we plan to put more resources. We are excited about our upcoming events in partnership with Google and Georgia Power. As a GT alum and soon to be double-Jacket, I am personally proud of the work that we have done to ensure that future yellow jackets with disabilities have the support and guidance needed to succeed.