Overall, the session went well and I was impressed with the particular contributions of a couple of the students. Joel and Katherine (sp?) were particularly impressive. Joel shared with 400 of his peers the pride he feels in being the first of his family to go to college. He shared about the stereotypes associated with being a first generation college student including the fact that people assume that, "my parents weren't smart enough to go to college" but I could tell Joel had parents who were capable and parents whom of course see the importance of college for their son as Joel embarks on his academic journey. Joel plans to get a degree in engineering and become a proud graduate of The Pennsylvania State University.
Katherine shared her pride in being Hispanic and specifically from the Dominican Republic. She talked about the stereotypes and assumptions that exist in her community. She said that there are countless assumptions about her culture that people make and among them she mentioned people thinking that Hispanic people are "dumb or lazy." Katherine then shared stories of members of her own family who are accomplished professionals and scholars and clearly don't represent some of the negative assumptions and stereotypes that she named. I could tell she was proud of her heritage and was brave enough to share it with her peers.
It's students like Katherine and Joel and the majority of the PSU Class of 2014 that inspire me to work in Student Affairs and promote dialogue surrounding issues of diversity and I hope today's session was beneficial for them. While there were a few challenging moments during the presentation (yeah, you know who are, I'll refrain from calling you out of course:)), I thought the group was great. Hope to return again next year!