KOKOMO, Ind. – Sometimes it is easier to talk to your peers about difficult topics than it is to a teacher or a person in authority.
Indiana University Kokomo’s new Equity Ambassadors are ready to have these conversations with fellow students on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
âFrom my own experience, I get nervous when I talk to people older than me about topics that I may not have a clue about. I have a hard time asking questions, âsaid Hannah Ruckman, Kokomo Equity Ambassador. âWhen I talk to my peers, it’s a lot easier to ask questions and immerse yourself in this training. Our goal is to train and inspire students to get involved on campus. “
In addition to Ruckman, the founding group includes Avia Dow, a junior from Merritt Island, Florida; Evan Price, a newcomer from Rossville; Jayden Emenhiser, a freshman from Lafayette; and Hayley Castillo, a second grader from Logansport. Paola Cubides, a doctoral student from BogotÃ¡, Colombia, acts as mentor and advisor.
All team members say they are excited about their new role, which includes planning and implementing activities for the Multicultural Center.
Castillo said their job is to provide education, but in a way that is fun and makes the center a safe place for everyone.
“We don’t want it to come across as a lecture,” she said. âThere are serious issues we’re going to talk about, but we don’t want anyone to feel like we’re trying to force this on them. We want it to be inclusive. “
“We need to spread awareness and education,” said Dow. âIU Kokomo is becoming more diverse. There are so many cultures that I wasn’t aware of until this year. It is good to learn more. So when you meet someone from a different culture, you can identify with them better. “
âAs an equity ambassador, I can get involved on campus,â says Emenhiser. “I get to know people from different backgrounds and cultures and immerse myself in the IU Kokomo community.”
For Price, it’s a chance to learn more about current events.
“I was interested in certain political issues and those related to human rights,” he said. âI thought this would be a great opportunity. Everyone has a unique background, and we can help teach other cultures and backgrounds that students may not be familiar with. “
Ruckman said diversity, equity and inclusion are an important part of higher education.
“If we can teach students things they are not familiar with outside of their own culture, they can diversify,” they said. “You will be able to change your life.”
Cubides said the team played an important role in event planning.
âHaving a team that is part of the student community has helped us develop more events and activities that appeal to the students,â she said. âYou know what the students want. They are a great enrichment for conveying the student perspective to us. “
Tess Barker, Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, has received a grant from the IU Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council to fund the Equity Ambassadors program.
Education is key at Indiana University Kokomo.