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Students in Community Engaged Learning Course Help Assess Diversity Efforts at Local School

November 24, 2021

Mia Donohue, a sophomore public health and psychology major and Spanish and ethics minor, is getting an up-close look at how to assess an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, thanks to the community engaged learning course, Culture and Inclusion. For Donohue, the course teachings and end of semester project have been enlightening and relevant to her everyday life.

Donohue and her peers in the course, taught by Dr. Fernan Cepero, adjunct professor of human resources management, are creating a critical evaluation and analysis of a diversity, equity, and inclusion survey for the Allendale Columbia School.

Donahue, a Service Scholar and student ambassador, said that the class is highlighting the different benefits of diversity and how it positively promotes more individuals to share their methods of thought and beliefs with others.

“As an Asian American, I find it very important to practice inclusivity along with active listening and open communication to better understand one another,” she explained, adding that she has learned how important it is to create safe spaces for individuals of different backgrounds to feel comfortable sharing and expressing their opinions, while also being open minded to new ideas.

Donohue's project involves an analysis of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at the local Allendale Columbia School as the school is preparing to launch a new strategic plan in 2022. She said that the responsibility of the project also comes with “identifying the flaws of current procedures and therefore providing remedies on how to better the current situation.”

Cepero hopes his students will take what they learn in the classroom and contribute to the community. “The students have an opportunity to see how culture and inclusion is fostered, facilitated and maintained in an actual organization,” he explained.

Brandon Drexler ’24, a biology and pre-optometry student, added that the class uses different types of dialogue to help students think more critically about components of a successful workplace.

“As a class composed of a variety of different majors, backgrounds, races, and ethnicities, each student is given the opportunity to share their walk with life and how they might view a particular issue,” he said.

Drexler also feels that the work with the community is rewarding because the class has the opportunity to share what they have learned in ways that directly benefit the school. “We are playing a part in shaping the future generation of students and staff at the Allendale Columbia School,” he added.

This article was written by Leslie Noble ’21, a marketing major and PR Writing Intern with the Office of Marketing and Communications.