Diversity ConferenceFor the second consecutive year, students, faculty and staff at West Kentucky Community and Technical College have actively participated in the Richland Community College Conference on Diversity and Globalization in Decatur, IL. Eight students and seven staff members attended this years conference, Serving Our World Outside Our Door.
Presentations focused on the importance of accountability, achieving education, globalization, and social justice and respect; many addressed barriers and successes from innovative diversity strategies and programs.
WKCTC faculty, staff and students presented a panel discussion titled, Service Learning Beyond the Classroom: A Class Act. Jipaum Askew-Robinson, WKCTC cultural director, and Gail Bachuss, WKCTC assistant director/ transfer counselor for TRiO student support services, moderated the discussion. Five WKCTC students made up the panel: McCracken County residents Eric Youngblood, AmberLee Douglas, and recent graduate Annette Roethemeyer; Dylan Green of Ballard County; and Maribel Phelps of Marshall County. Several of the students have participated in the colleges Service Learning Program, which focuses on both academics and the importance of volunteer work on campus and the community.
An integral part of our Service Learning and Student Ambassador Programs is learning outside the classroom through volunteer work both on campus and throughout the community, therefore the panel discussion was a perfect fit for the conference, said Bachuss.
Green said volunteering time and efforts to various organizations within the community is one of the main objectives of student ambassadors. The Service Learning Program helped me realize that someone has to step up and be a leader for a community to thrive, strive to be that kind of leader in the community and in the classroom; set an example for my fellow students, and appreciate and get to know all kinds of people.
Askew-Robinson said the students were also impressed with other conference sessions, with many saying it was an eye-opening experience for them.
This conference was awesome, said Phelps. Two sessions, in particular, made me really stop and think about myself and better understand my Hispanic heritage. The session on self-identify made me ask how I classify myself; and the session on foreign language made me realize that being bilingual make me more versatile and more marketable.
Dr. Belinda Dalton Russell, WKCTC vice president of student affairs, has been involved in the diversity conference for the past ten years and worked to create the opportunity for WKCTC students, faculty and staff to attend. The purpose of the annual conference is to allow participants to engage in a dialogue that explores issues and finds solutions that bring diverse peopletogether to develop cross-cultural skills and global leadership, said Dalton-Russell. Learning these skills is a vital part of succeeding in this ever-changing diverse world.