When I started at UC Davis several years ago, I understood what it meant to find good-quality images for a website — how those images should reflect the content, and how they could elevate it and engage users. What I didn’t fully realize at the time was that the images I chose were a broader commentary on the makeup of UC Davis and the microcosm of the culture here.
To be honest, I went with what I knew. Growing up in the Midwest in a semi-rural town with little exposure to folks of different cultures or backgrounds didn’t help. I was raised to be open to different people and ideas, yet my biases still accrued.
What helped over the years was feedback from teammates, colleagues, and students, and an understanding that my perspective wasn’t the only one out there. Also, humility is a great teacher If you are willing to listen. Additionally, I learned more about biases and the uniqueness of our individual experiences through the Diversity Awareness Workshop.
Overall, I learned not only to be thinking of the broader goals and initiatives of the university, which included reflecting underrepresented groups, but also to consider my own privilege and with what ease I chose to go to college; how my path, though not uncommon, certainly wasn’t the only story out there.
It was helpful, too, that I could point to instances where these stories were unfolding before me through the people I met, and those I would see lunching, studying and enjoying the campus together. Daily I heard stories of the challenges many students faced on campus or trying to get into college, and I felt not only thankful for the opportunities I had, but also for a chance to make their journey easier and to reflect their experiences.
I’m happy to think about the way that I and my colleagues have grown over the years and how the website has changed. We certainly aren’t finished. There will always be room for improvement and new perspectives to showcase, but at least I can take pride in the fact that we are trying to move in the right direction.