Celebrating Diversity In and Out of the Classroom

Discussing diversity has been a mainstay for the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), and this year they’ve scheduled a series of events aimed at engaging faculty and staff as well as students.

This fall, pack your lunch and head over to One Pace Plaza to enjoy a bit of discussion and camaraderie at the Office of Multicultural Affair’s (OMA’s) brown bag lunchtime series. The gatherings are part of OMA’s Courageous Conversations in Diversity series. Denise Belen Santiago, director of OMA, says that the lunches are a way to promote discussion and inclusion among people. “We talk about why we sometimes feel as though we have to hide parts of ourselves in order to feel accepted,” she says. The lunches will be held from 12:30 p.m.—2:00 p.m. on September 20, October 25, November 22, and December 13.

The brown bag seminars are just one in a series of events for faculty, staff, and students that OMA has lined up this fall. “We’re starting the semester with the Chalk Festival and we’re going to start up the Knitting Circle again toward the end of the month,” says Santiago, who also encourages students, staff, and faculty to participate in the 11th annual Brides March on September 26, sponsored by the New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence.

Another way that staff and faculty can get involved is through OMA’s Theater Lab, which is made up of undergraduate students who write and perform pieces centered on the issue of diversity. “We’re always looking for staff and faculty to take on some of the roles in the skits—parts like parents, professors, other adult figures. And if you’re a writer, you may want to submit a written piece—you don’t have to act,” explains Santiago. The Theater Lab works in conjunction with UNV101 and the OASIS Program for young adults on the autism spectrum.

If performance isn’t your forte, don’t worry—you can still be a part of all the great things OMA is doing on campus. “We’re in desperate need of mentors,” says Santiago about OMA’s mentoring program, which was developed to help students from historically underrepresented groups. The mentoring program, which Santiago reports has more mentees than mentors, is actively seeking faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds to be volunteer mentors for Pace students. “We don’t partner people based on race or ethnicity,” she explains, “but based on similar interests and career goals.”

And last, but certainly not least, a great way for faculty and staff to get involved in the University dialogue about diversity is to share their stories. Telling My Story: Reflections of Race, Culture, and Identity is a way for members of the Pace Community to share their experiences and background, and explain how their experiences have shaped them as individuals.

For more information about these and other programs hosted by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, please visit www.pace.edu/oma or contact dsantiago@pace.edu.

A Few Good Mentors

1 mentee + 1 mentor = 2 lives changed forever. It’s a winning equation that you can be a part of through the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Mentoring Program.

MentorDo you remember that tutor, that coach, that 10th grade history teacher, who inspired and motivated you, who completely changed your life? What if we told you that you had the opportunity to be that person?

The Office of Multicultural Affairs is looking for faculty and staff members to sign up for their Mentoring Program, which is dedicated to helping African American, Latino/a, and Native American students better connect to the University, its resources, and its people. The program, which has been in existence for two years, currently has more than 45 students signed up as mentees, but unfortunately less than half the mentors available to help them.  And that is where Pace faculty and staff can help out.

Assistant Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) Melanie Robles, who manages the Mentoring Program, emphasizes that you don’t have to be African American, Latino/a, or Native American to be a mentor.  “Mentors can be anyone genuinely invested in our students’ success,” Robles says.

So what does mentoring entail? Mentors meet with their mentees monthly and e-mail at least twice per month—that’s less time than most of us spend on Facebook each month. During that time, mentors can help students by providing professional development through networking and internships, exploring future employment or education opportunities, motivating them to get involved, or simply being a listening ear. “Students may talk about school, roommates, family, basically everything under the sun,” Robles says.

In-house workshops for mentors and mentees are planned for the coming months, including a reception on November 8, and a workshop on helping mentees develop better professional relationships with their professors. Additionally, at the end of this month, mentees will go on a field trip to the Foundation Center, where they will learn all about obtaining scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid, to fund their undergraduate education at Pace and continue on to graduate and law schools.

This program can help show our students that there is someone who cares about them; it can help foster a feeling of belonging in students and help them get the most out of their Pace experience; and last but not least, it can help faculty and staff become more connected with our students and have a real impact on their future.

Do you have a few hours a month to help make a difference in the life of a Pace student today? Sign up today or e-mail Melanie Robles at mrobles@pace.edu to help close the mentoring gap.