I grew up in Northern New Hampshire, a beautiful mountainous space full of natural wonders, and hard-working people, but very little diversity. There were few, if any, people of color. I remember one Black boy on the school bus my sister and I rode each day, but I also remember there was a time when, for unknown reasons, we didn’t see him again. At this period of my life it was also the 1980s, the height of the AIDS epidemic and it was not always safe for someone to come out as gay or queer; I honestly do not remember if I was even familiar with the term ‘transgender’ during those years. It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and after a few years of working, began attending a community college in Connecticut that I learned there was a bigger world outside my own. Although I’ve never lived outside New England, my own college experiences, travels, and the people whose friendships have come and gone, taught me so much about the importance of acceptance, and the value of listening and learning from various perspectives and worldviews . If there is anything we all have in common, it is the recognition that we are all human.
As an instructor, over all else, diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of my mind each and every day. I deeply value what my students abilities, cultures, and life experiences bring into my life and my classroom, and because of this, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. During the course of each semester I check-in with each of my students to see how they are doing, gauge their interest about course activities, and make sure they feel included. At the end of a semester, I survey my students not only about my teaching and how I can improve myself and the course, but also if they felt their identity was represented in the reading lists, assignments, and activities. One of my classes also gives me an opportunity to act as an advisor, allowing me to have one-on-one conversations with them about their academic and life goals; these conversations further illuminate what my students need in their lives to meet those goals, and helping them make deeper connections with organizations on campus, other students with similar interests, and faculty mentors.
I consider it a moral obligation to respect the human rights of others, especially students of color and LGBTQ+ community members; their strength and will to be who they are inspire me to always do better with developing a strong classroom community through listening and participating as an ally. I also feel it is attending important events, and participating in service opportunities that support these individuals is necessary to my role as a supportive and empathetic human being.
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