Inclusive Campus

Author: Linda Spice '89

Published Date: 5/23/2019

Categories: Alumni F1RST Magazine F1RST Summer 2019 Faculty and Staff Students


Inclusive Campus

Community Unites Around Diversity Efforts

Symone Russell ’16 has been involved in diversity discussions at Carroll since her freshman year in 2012.
As a student of color herself, she thought it was important to know and understand how Carroll assisted its students of color. Now as an alumna, she wants to provide more support than she had during her days at Carroll.


“I remembered feeling that there weren’t many resources for myself so I felt obligated to be that person for current students,” said Russell, who has become part of a growing number of alumni committed to strengthening diversity by connecting through Carroll’s Cultural Diversity Discussion group on campus. Russell also serves as alumni advisor to the college’s black student union. 

Dolores Ocampo Brown ’99, senior director for the office of alumni engagement, helped launch the Cultural Diversity Discussion alumni group in April 2016, and said the university’s goals in engaging alumni to help support diversity initiatives include: 


Helping to lead the diversity efforts are alumni José Olivieri ’78, chair of Carroll’s board of trustees; Dorval Carter ’79, vice-chair of Carroll’s board of trustees and chair of the academic and student affairs committee; and Sandra (Smith) Cunningham ’78, former chair of the alumni council and Carroll trustee. She also chairs the board’s facilities committee. 

Alumni involved in diversity discussions meet with faculty, staff and students on campus and are not limited by distance, sometimes participating via conference call. Brown said having alumni engage in diversity efforts is important for Carroll in providing students a reflection of the real world.

“We would be doing our students a disservice if we didn’t attempt to mirror the world that exists now,” Brown said. “Our mission is to prepare students for service and work in a diverse and global community.”

Todd Suriano ’87, said diversity has become a focal point and interest to him, particularly as the father of an adopted son from Korea. He also has worked in a minority-owned bank in Detroit, Michigan, for the last decade. Suriano has traveled back to campus to join his fellow alumni in Carroll’s Cultural Diversity Discussion group and is working to establish internships in Detroit and bring greater awareness of Carroll to students of color in Michigan. “I guess the older I get, the more I realize how special Carroll is,” he said. “I’d love to be able to get Detroit kids over to Carroll. I think it’s a great story that needs to be told over on this side of the lake.”

One of the larger initiatives to come out of diversity discussions involves the creation of Carroll’s Opportunity Scholarship Fund, intended to help narrow the financial gap for students of diverse backgrounds who are traditionally underrepresented here. It aligns with the university’s priority of helping to retain those students. Donors have committed more than $200,000 to the fund at its start, and Carroll will continue to work to grow the dollars as it aims toward stronger diversity and retention of students, according to Steve Kuhn, vice president for institutional advancement at Carroll.

“I think we’re making progress, but we have a long way to go in terms of diversity,” said Carroll President Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, who said considerations for strengthening diversity at Carroll have been built into the university’s four goals making up its new strategic plan. And not only is it important for students, but efforts are underway to build on diversity among faculty and staff, too, she said.

Vanessa Topczewski (Pérez), associate dean of multicultural affairs and global engagement, said she has seen an excitement around “innovation, inclusion and growth” that is contagious. Her office is building on the momentum by focusing on gathering data, research and feedback to design a two-year departmental strategic plan.

“We’re looking forward to expanding and improving systems, programs and supports that assist in cultivating a welcoming and inclusive learning environment for the entire campus community,” she said.

We are all Pioneers

Jesus Montes and Jaellah Cimmone Jones
Jesus Montes and Jaellah Cimmone Jones
So many different paths bring us to Carroll. So many different dreams drive us. We come from more than 30 states and more than 30 countries. But the Pioneer experience unites us. The Pioneer spirit lives within us all.

It lives within Jesus Montes. The sophomore from West Allis is driven to succeed in Carroll’s rigorous nursing program and to begin a career in healthcare. But he says he wouldn’t be here without the financial aid he has received. “Because of it, I’m able to attend the university of my choice to pursue my dream.”
 
And it lives within Jaellah Cimmone Jones, a first year student from northern Illinois. An avid reader, Jones is studying biology and psychology as she takes aim at graduate studies in neuroscience. She is overjoyed to be at Carroll and is forever grateful for the financial aid support she has received. It shows that someone else believes in her, she says. “It shows me that hard work really does pay off.”

Our president, Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, believes strongly in making the Carroll experience accessible to all, regardless of their background. She created the Opportunity Scholarship Fund to provide a lifeline for those students from diverse backgrounds which are traditionally underrepresented in higher education and to help bridge that gap. With a contribution to the Opportunity Scholarship Fund, you’ll be actively supporting a more diverse campus—and helping Carroll fulfill its mission.

Learn more about the Opportunity Scholarship Fund
 

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