Diversity Awareness: An Important Aspect of College

Diversity awareness and programming is an essential part of the college experience, as students prepare for a job in an ever-increasingly diverse and global workplace.

Employers value not only one’s job-related knowledge, communication and “soft skills”, but an understanding of how to interact with colleagues, clients or patients from varying:

  • cultures
  • ethnic or racial backgrounds
  • gender or gender identifications
  • religions
  • sexual orientations

Knowing how to interact with people from all walks of life is important to our everyday interactions in the classroom, with friends and family, and society in general.

At the campus we can foster awareness of the wide-ranging groups of people through curriculum, programming and events, displays and/or bulletin boards.

The Diversity Enhancement Committee at the Rasmussen College New Port Richey/West Pasco, Fla. campus, for example, is a key component of the overarching approach to diversity in a higher education setting. The campus has one person who is named the “diversity champion” – who also works as the campus’ librarian – and this individual works with volunteers from each department, which includes the core faculty, staff, nursing faculty and student services.

The subcommittee members change monthly and meet to brainstorm and plan the respective month’s event or activity. The subcommittee then organizes and implements that month’s campus event or activity.

There are many diversity themed events and activities that have taken place on the New Port Richey/West Pasco, Fla. Campus, including organizing a potluck of African/African-American dishes, reading of the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in celebration of National Black History Month, and viewings of The Trevor Project & It Gets Better Project clips in recognition of National LGBT Month. Campus programming and/or college-wide initiatives can also be incorporated into online or residential course curriculum, as well.

The outcome and value of the campus diversity program events has led to discussions among students, faculty, and staff, and has also created opportunities for lifelong learning, and personal and professional development.

If you are interested in participating in campus events, learning more about diverse groups, or becoming involved in campus programming, contact your campus Diversity Champion.

Hilary Wagner

Hilary Wagner is a native Floridian. She is an alumnus of St. Petersburg Junior College and the University of South Florida, majoring in American Studies. She then obtained her Master's in Library and Information Science from USF, where she. She has worked in academic and public libraries, and accepted the position of Reference Librarian at Rasmussen's Pasco County, Florida College at Rasmussen in 2006. She serves on the Diversity and Learning & Teaching committees and is the liaison to the Business program, including Business Management degree specialization.

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