I grew up as the son of a rural, white, Pennsylvania preacher who started an Amish-Mennonite church in an urban, low-income, Black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. With this cross-cultural background, I thought I knew a lot about diversity. Turns out I had a lot more to learn.
By the time I started working in Undergraduate Admissions communications at UC Davis, I had lived internationally in Asia and Africa, as well. But as I oriented myself on campus, the university’s community challenged my preconceptions and stereotypes, helping me expand my thinking and experiences even more.
Through my time at UC Davis — from DEI trainings, conversations with colleagues, the work of campus researchers and challenges to think through in my own work — I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned more about Chicanx/Latinx culture and representation. That preferred pronouns are indeed important. That no one likes to be pigeonholed. I’ve learned to approach campus communities with respect, ask their opinions on how they are represented and seek to promote community voices.
But most of all, I’ve learned to keep learning and stay open to the viewpoints and experiences of others. Openness to listening, change and growth is at the heart of advancing equity and inclusion, and of good marketing.