UW-Madison senior shares her undergraduate experience and how her life and career path changed after joining a student organization. My transition to college was harder than I expected, emotionally and academically, and I added to the difficulty by being too ashamed to admit I was struggling. I avoided my friends from high school, because I thought they had this image of me as a perfect student, and I didn’t want to tarnish that reputation. I was too young to realize that my grade school friends may have seen me this way because I was one of the only Asian-Americans in a predominantly white town. I had molded myself to fit their stereotype so it would easier for me to fit in. It was hard for me to make new friends, because my previous friend-making model of being in the same classes and activities with people for twelve years where my reputation preceded me wasn’t working anymore. I told my parents that everything was fine - more than fine, great in fact - in every weekly phone call. Even the thought of letting them know their “perfect” daughter was crumbling under the pressure of expectations and barely finding the motivation to get up every morning paralyzed me and kept me from seeking help. We didn’t talk about mental health problems in our family. Years later, my parents told me they knew I was struggling the whole time.
Faculty job postings are increasingly asking for diversity statements, in addition to research and teaching statements. According to the University of California at San Diego website, “the purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have professional skills, experience and/or willingness to engage in activities that would enhance campus diversity and equity efforts” (emphasis added). In general, these statements are an opportunity for applicants to explain to a search committee the distinct experiences and commitment they bring to the table. So, how do you write an effective diversity statement? If you are a job candidate who actually cares about diversity and equity, how do you convey that commitment to a search committee?
UW-Madison’s Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO), will celebrate 25 years of supporting low-income, disabled and first-generation college students with a free event at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Memorial Union. Please RSVP by Nov. 29. CeO began in 1993 with a U.S. Department of Education TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant to the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The grant was written by Walter Lane, an assistant dean in the School of Education, who was dedicated to providing educational opportunities to students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds. Driven by his service in the Vietnam War, Lane noticed service members who were recruited to fight in the front lines had little opportunities for other career paths. Lane came back to the United States with a determination to complete the education and experience he needed in order to help other people like himself. When he retired in 2008, Lane left a legacy of programs serving thousands of students each year at UW–Madison. In addition to the SSS grant, Lane brought the Ronald E. McNair, POSSE, and PEOPLE programs to campus.