Hi friends! I’m Marissa Relitz, first year MNA VISTA serving at Alma College in Alma, MI. Here at Alma College I am working to build the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Within the first month, I was part of the group who interviewed and hired the new Director of Diversity and Inclusion. She starts next week and we are so excited to welcome her. Because of this new person, I expect the program, and my role, to be shifting a little bit.
My responsibilities so far have included organizing Diversity Dialogues every month, finding speakers and advertising them, etc. The other tasks I am to fulfill are the programming for the Campbell Scholars, a group of 20 students from Detroit, MI. The point of the Campbell’s Scholarship was to bridge the urban/rural divide here at Alma. My role in these activities is to keep them going strong, to build them up to continue after I’m gone, and to get this little office on campus more ingrained wholly within the rest of campus.
My work with the Campbell scholars includes facilitating a meeting with all of them every Friday afternoon, I also meet with them individually, facilitating a leadership and diversity oriented symposium in mid-October(open to all of campus), organizing for each of them to go back to their high schools and act as ambassadors over Winter Break.
Getting to know this group of students has been the most rewarding part of my service so far. Communication was an obstacle in the beginning, but we have since figured out the most effective way of communicating.
In the coming months I’m looking forward to building the diversity dialogues. These dialogues are a safe place to talk about the given subject, and I think that the subjects we are talking about are very important. There has been so much positive feedback about these in the past, so I have taken the initiative to increase the amount of them. Instead of having one in November, we will have 2. I am very excited to see the outcomes of this and getting more people involved. I’d also like to develop some sort of action plan from each dialogue on how we can improve ourselves and our campus.
In the coming weeks and months I’m going to be working on developing a better method of recording the things we have been doing. When I went to start planning for this year, it was made extra difficult by the fact what has been done in the past was not well organized or easy to maneuver.
Each blog post was written by one of our VISTAs!