Committee Member Q&A

Loukaia TaylorLoukaia Taylor, '22 

Communications Specialist, University Relations & Marketing

What is your position at Stockton and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I recently joined the University Relations and Marketing (URM) team here at Stockton University. My position is fairly new in the department. As a Multicultural Communications Specialist, I write articles social media content that highlight underserved student populations.

I became interested in the CCDIE during my internship at URM, when I was brought into committee meetings and learned more about our newsletter, Celebrate Diversity. During that time, I got to meet the committee and Communications & Branding subcommittee. I was also given the chance to write about the committee’s 2022 Unity Day celebration as one of my first website articles. After pitching and writing an article about the Unified Black Students Society’s annual Black Gala for Celebrate Diversity, I was hooked and ready to do more!

As a new CCDIE member, what do you hope to contribute to the CCDIE and to diversity and inclusion at Stockton?

I hope to continue the work that I have been doing with the committee since I was an intern: writing about diverse student experiences. Students deserve to feel like the institution that they are either calling their four-year home or alma mater accurately cares for and represents them. Even though I’m not a programmer or decision-maker, I am someone who can at the very least try to connect students with the roles that do in order to support them and their experience here through writing about their experiences.

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next few years?

From what I saw on Celebrate Diversity, the CCDIE explores many different populations of students already, including older adult learners, those who are pregnant or caregiving, and more. I hope to see this continue to expand through more articles and programming that are more student-centered and driven, including alumni and graduate students. Writing and formally documenting these experiences are just some of the other ways to contribute to the mosaic of diversity here at Stockton.

What advice would you share with students in our campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

I would say to just make that passion known to all whom you encounter. There are so many staff and faculty members here dedicated to making Stockton a diverse, equitable and social justice-centered institution. There are also many student leaders on campus who believe in the same mission and have a vision for Stockton. The problem is that we’re not seeing each other! We’re all on the same team—now we just have to start playing the game in unison rather than apart.

Is there anything else you believe is important for our readership to know?

It’s easy to talk about Stockton whether positive or negative like it’s some sort of entity that doles out classes and grades. However, Stockton isn’t just an entity. Behind every office, department and student organization, there are hard-working people, working toward building a community. Take the time to get to know someone outside of your usual circle—you’ll be surprised at how much you both have in common.

 

Christopher Lipari PazienzaChristopher Lipari Pazienza

MA in Criminal Justice, '22

How did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I learned about CCDIE during my first year in the Student Senate. The Senate was asked which students would be interested in serving on a committee whose goal and mission was to increase inclusion amongst students, faculty and staff. I leapt at the offer to serve alongside dedicated, like-minded individuals to try and increase diversity and inclusion on campus.

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work for the past two years?

I have had the opportunity to serve on the Social Justice & Education Subcommittee, where we worked on the Unity Day Conference. This subcommittee worked exceptionally hard batting against the unknown variables that COVID-19 brought with it. As a student, I was able to bring in student interest and involvement by coordinating a student panel for the conference. Through this, community members and faculty at Stockton were able to learn that faith is still prominent amongst the younger generation.

As a student senator, please share with us how the Student Senate Standing Committee on Diversity & Inclusion might collaborate on diversity, inclusion and social justice?

The Student Senate D&I committee is always open to discussing any issues revolving around social justice. Each member acts as a liaison between the Senate and at least one student organization serving a marginalized identity. This committee has started an annual event titled “Continue the Movement” to raise concern about the struggles the African American and Black communities face in America.

You’ll be graduating soon and will be an alum. If you were nominated to return to the CCDIE as an alum, would you accept a nomination? Why?

100% yes! While being a student, I can aid in giving a student perspective on issues; however, an alum can provide an outside perspective. Having different perspectives is how conversations and change can happen because of the different experiences. I hope that if nominated, I can bring to the committee new ideas that could aid in the mission to increase inclusion on the campus I have called home for the past five years.

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next few years?

I hope that CCDIE explores other identities and helps connect students with faculty and staff members who share these identities. Recently, the committee started an international faculty affinity network. My role as the student representative was attempting to connect students with these faculty members to promote mentorship and scholarship opportunities. As a first-generation student, mentorship is a value of mine, and I hope to aid in other first-generation students’ journeys.

What advice would you share with students in our campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

Never hesitate to ask around and vocalize your interests and opinions. Start with joining a club or organization that has a similar identity to you and then work with them to spread your opinion. Bringing up these issues may seem daunting at first but gathering support and having educational conversations are the first steps to seeing change happen.

 

Seth RogersSeth Richards

Associate Director of Student Conduct

What is your position at Stockton and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

Since my first day at the University Jan. 18, I have been impressed and inspired by the energy that students across campus demonstrate with their spirit, activism and involvement. I knew I wanted to get involved beyond the scope of my position/office and thought that CCDIE was the perfect blend of my passion and professional experience. At every institution where I have previously worked, I have continuously sought ways to further the important work of promoting and ensuring equity, inclusion, representation and education for all students. Before any other important work in academe can be accomplished, the foundation of equity, inclusion and opportunity must be laid. CCDIE’s work is the bedrock of the institution socially, spiritually, academically and morally. I am incredibly excited to lend my enthusiasm for this work to this integral process.

As a new CCDIE member, what do you hope to contribute to the CCDIE and to diversity and inclusion at Stockton?

Since embarking on my professional career as a member of the adolescent unit with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families working for DCP&P (formerly DYFS) over a decade ago, I have consistently been involved in equity and inclusion initiatives in various capacities. A few of my favorite roles were serving as a Diversity Advocate on search committees at George Mason University, serving as a Diversity Task Force member at Bucknell University and most recently being appointed by students as the advisor to the Black Student Union at Georgian Court University. I believe my unique life experiences, coupled with my varied professional roles in multiple states on the East Coast, make me uniquely equipped to serve on this committee. I consistently seek to challenge antiquated ideologies and engage in difficult conversations by “calling people in,” as opposed to “calling them out.” My professional training as a mediator and social worker will serve me well in a role where cultural competence, empathy, patience and grace are so important.

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore in the next two years?

I’m excited about the direction that institutions of higher education across the country are headed regarding restorative justice practices in the conduct arena. The old model of punitive action or a one-size-fits-all approach to adjudicating student issues is becoming a thing of the past in favor of more empathetic, flexible and meaningful restorative practices focused on promoting learning and healing whenever a code of conduct incident occurs. My hope is the important work the CCDIE team continues to do will coincide and strengthen the direction in which my office is already moving and Stockton can be at the forefront of this trend.

What words of wisdom would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

Diversity and inclusion work is EVERYONE’S work. Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable to ask questions or engage in conversations that you may have never had before. It’s important to approach every new opportunity with a humble, learning mindset and know that while the task of furthering diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice initiatives is a massive undertaking, every journey begins with a single step. I encourage all students, faculty, staff, etc. to examine the spaces to which they belong with a critical eye and make space for reflection about identity and belonging. Building cultural competence is a lifelong pursuit; I consider it to be more of an organic journey or process rather than a static destination or final achievement.

Is there anything else you believe is important for our readership to know?

I’d first like to say I am excited and humbled to be a member of the CCDIE. I cannot overstate how critical the work of this committee is for healthy functioning of an ever-changing community like Stockton. As a shameless plug: I would encourage any faculty, staff or students reading this newsletter to consider becoming a member of our Campus Hearing Board. These volunteers are trained to evaluate cases that come before the board when an alleged code of conduct violation occurs. Members of the hearing board are invaluable members of the adjudication process and vital to the implementation of fair, unbiased, representative and equitable restorative proceedings as they relate to student comportment and conduct. Interested parties should email studentconduct@stockton.edu for more information.

 

Guia Calicdan-ApostleGuia Calicdan-Apostle

Associate Professor of Social Work

What is your position at Stockton and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I am an associate professor of Social Work, primarily assigned to teach in the MSW Program since 2011. I am also a coordinator of the Victimology and Victim Services minor, Diversity Faculty Fellow of the Center for Teaching and Learning Design, advisor of the Pilipino American Students Association of Stockton (PASAS), co-advisor of the MSW Student Alliance and mentor for the Student Success Scholars.

I have been involved with CCDIE since 2016. My interest in diversity and inclusion runs deep into my spiritual belief in the oneness of humanity, and acceptance of this unity means that I should strenuously try to assist in contributing to activities that support this principle. To put this principle into action, I teach a class on race, ethnicity, diversity and social justice as a faculty member. As a Diversity Fellow with Stockton’s Center for Teaching and Learning Design, I serve as a resource on diversity in teaching and learning. Currently, I am exploring initial strategies in putting some principles on decolonization in higher education as the next step to diversity and inclusion. These efforts are consistent with the social work professional principle of challenging social injustice “by promoting sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity” (National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics). I am also a resource speaker on diversity issues in and outside the Stockton community.

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work over the years?

To align the goals on diversity and inclusion at Stockton University, CCDIE is a volunteer-driven entity that provides a structure to organize initiatives that promote the mission “to develop engaged and effective citizens with a commitment to lifelong learning and the capacity to adapt to change in a multi-cultural, interdependent world.”

I have been involved as a member and later as a co-convener of the Social Justice and Education Sub-committee for the past four years before I became a co-convener of CCDIE in 2019. I was proud to assist in organizing the Stockton University Unity Day program in 2019. Planning took almost a year. But the results were impactful and affirming to the CCDIE mission. Just launching a program like this with direct intent on unity shows that we are serious about building a culture of respect and care in the University.

Following the theme of unity, the Social Justice and Education Sub-committee hosted a Zoom pre-conference on Unity of Religion and Spirituality. Perhaps, this is one of those avoidable topics in America, but there is no better time and place to open the conversation on the topic where about 90% of Americans believe in some kind of higher power( Pew Research Center, 2017).

I am also involved in organizing the International Faculty and Staff Network. After a successful “meet and greet,” a group is organizing to make it an official affinity group at Stockton.

What words of wisdom would you share with other members of the campus communitywho want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice at Stockton?

One can be involved directly by contacting the Office for Diversity and Inclusion. We are always looking for volunteers dedicated to the principle of diversity and inclusion. One may also become involved indirectly by attending activities that promote personal and professional development around these topics.

As you continue your participation on the CCDIE, what do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

In March, we will launch Stockton's second Unity Day 2022, following the same topic of the pre-conference in April 2021. We hope to generate more participation from the Stockton community.

I believe that education is always the best tool to avoid colliding with the “isms,” prejudices, and macro and microaggressions. Education dismantles the destructive paradigms of ignorance and complacency and complicity and transforms communities toward a better understanding of diversity and inclusion. I hope to continue to be a part of this transformation process as a volunteer educator of CCDIE.

 

Brian OdhiamboBrian Odhiambo

Graduate Student, Computer Science

You are the first international student to serve on the Committee for Campus Diversity and Inclusive Excellence (CCDIE). What inspired you to consider and accept the nomination to be an appointed member of the CCDIE?

First and foremost, it was an honor to be offered the position by Dr. (JY) Zhou. As an international student, I have always strived to work with organizations that deal with inclusion and equity because of my background in creating projects geared toward social justice. Such as my Board of Trustees fellowship award, where I came up with a project that would address police brutality on unarmed civilians.

Please share some information about your country and why you selected Stockton for your college education.

I am an international student from Kenya, which is a beautiful country. We speak Swahili and English but also have 42 different languages spoken by different tribes. But we all understand each other through the two languages. I grew up in Nairobi and went to college in a town called Eldoret, where I did my Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, Media and Communication. I wanted to change my major and pursue my dream of being a software engineer. Thus, the United States looked like a perfect environment to study computer science because of the higher advanced field of tech and research. I chose Stockton because I really liked the size of the school and the faculty to student ratio of 17:1, which to me meant that I would be able to interact more with the professors, as compared to my previous school where classes had a higher population.

In collaboration with other members of the CCDIE, what do you hope to accomplish as a committee member?

As a committee member, I would like to strive to create more opportunities for students of color and from low-income households with advocating for opportunities such as scholarships, so that they may be able to stay in school and have the chance to have get their dream career.

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

I hope the CCDIE will explore more initiatives to support diversity, especially to students pursuing tech and STEM majors, because the field is highly underrepresented by students of color.

What advice would you share with students in our campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

I would like to advise them to participate in different programs that are offered by different clubs and societies, where they will be able to immerse themselves and experience different cultures, get to have a taste in their cuisine and make more connections with students from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. Osprey Hub is an excellent platform for staying up to date with the latest events and programs.

Is there anything else that you believe is important for our readership to know?

I would like to encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunities Stockton has to offer such as the Board of Trustees Fellowship, which is an excellent opportunity to delve deep into research and share your ideas/work with the community. It’s a good resume builder and a platform for building a network that may come in handy when looking for a job.

 

Shedia LaguerShedia Laguer

Assistant Director, Student Development

What is your position at Stockton and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

It is my pleasure to serve as Assistant Director for the Office of Student Development. In this position, I am given the opportunity to cultivate student leaders, support a vibrant campus environment through engagement, and facilitate inclusion through education and programming. After attending an Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Institute on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers in 2019, I learned about CCDIE. The work of TRHT was very complementary of the existing efforts of CCDIE. I was honored and excited to continue my service of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice to the University through this committee. 

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work over the years?

Life experience is invaluable. My main contribution in any space is showing up authentically, offering my life experiences, scholarship and perspective. Additionally, my commitment to facilitate belonging, inclusion and equity has guided me to serve in various capacities at Stockton. Since my position is a student-facing role, it allows me to have my finger on the pulse of the students’ needs and desires. Through my work with CCDIE, we have been able to amplify the student voice and support their inclusion and success at Stockton. 

What advice would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

I firmly believe efforts to support diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice are everyone’s responsibility. Regardless of your service area there is opportunity to create a more inclusive Stockton. I encourage everyone to take inventory of the common policies, practices, curriculum and functions of their area. In reflection, consider whose voice is missing, who is unintentionally barred access, and how can things be changed to improve the quality of experiences for other campus community members. As agents of change, we should use every opportunity to light up the corners of the room, especially those with privilege. Beyond self-work, there are amazing opportunities through initiatives such as SPACES, the Green Dot Bystander Intervention Program and La Mesa: The Residential Oasis for Intercultural Engagement to support an inclusive and diverse campus community. 

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

I look forward to the summits and educational opportunities hosted by CCDIE. Education is a conduit to great change. My hope is that as University members become better informed and educated on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, the greater Stockton University will become. Knowledge is power. I am also excited to see how CCDIE will work in partnership with the Multicultural Center opening this spring.

Is there anything else that you believe is important for our readership to know?

His Holiness Dali Lama once said, “It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” I encourage everyone to learn more about some of the awesome initiatives hosted in Student Affairs to support our students and get involved, including:

 

Kameika Murphy

Kameika Murphy

Assistant Professor of Atlantic History

What is your position at Stockton and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I am an Assistant Professor of Atlantic History with specialization in the experiences of Africans and Afro-descendants in the Atlantic region. I also am affiliated faculty in Africana Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and most recently, Migration Studies.

Diversity, inclusion and equity initiatives have always been on my radar. As an Afro-Caribbean woman and given the nature of histories that I study and teach, I came to believe very early in my career that this is an area where, (1) lessons from the past can lend well to positive institutional change, and (2) I could gain greater exposure on how to bridge conversations in the classroom with the larger community.

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work over the years?

When I first joined the CCDIE three years ago, I was not sure what to expect or how I’d fit in. I just knew the committee’s work fit well with my personal and professional philosophies. Since then, I’ve found a great niche as the convener for the Branding and Communication subcommittee. I’ve also made contributions to other subcommittees and endeavor to represent faculty perspectives in the planning and execution of the CCDIE goals.

What words of wisdom would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

You know, one of the things I appreciate about the CCDIE is its flexibility. It is a no-pressure environment where members get lots of room to determine where and how they serve. In these unprecedented times when there is so much more to balancing personal and work life well, I know many of us would like to get involved but might be concerned about what this sort of commitment means for everything else that’s going on in life. I’d say consider ways to support any one of the many CCDIE initiatives. For instance, the Branding and Communication subcommittee needs people who can help with our newsletter as editors and other subcommittees have programs that could fit well with your interests and expertise. If you want to join the subcommittee, you can be as involved as you want.

As you continue your participation on the CCDIE, what do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

We launched the CCDIE newsletter earlier this semester and are already in our third issue. While we initially imagined the digest as a platform to keep the campus community informed on any and everything related to the CCDIE’s work, it is quickly becoming a great repository of sorts. My vision is for the subcommittee to continue to build the newsletter out as an archive that the entire community can turn to for information related to diversity, inclusion and equity. I can easily see this becoming another resource for faculty who are looking to integrate ongoing conversations about race, social justice and equity into class assignments and/or discussions.

Is there anything else that you believe is important for our readership to know?

First, thank you for the honor of serving our community through the CCDIE. I’d also like to encourage our readership to see the CCDIE newsletter as an opportunity to weigh in on various issues and developments related to the committee’s work. There is a space for everyone’s voice – faculty, staff, students, alumni, you name it. We welcome your contributions.

 

Shavon ThomasShavon Thomas ‘22

Criminal Justice

How did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I became interested in CCDIE when I saw racism boldly displayed among the Stockton community. This particularly took place on social media. Racist posts were made by members of the Stockton community. However, it was the post made by fellow students of color describing their experiences on campus, how they weren't surprised by the little action taken by Stockton administration, and how they wanted real change that inspired me most. Personally, the anger and disgust I felt as a student made me want to do more to really contribute to changing the environment at Stockton. 

What do you see as your main contribution to the CCDIE’s work this year?

My main contribution has been helping in planning campus events. Everyone who goes to Stockton knows one fun thing to do is go to events. This is best and easiest way to make friends at Stockton. So, in my time with the Campus Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence, I’m contributing in creating an atmosphere for people of different backgrounds to be in one room and connect. 

What advice would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

My advice would be to start within your community. Most people think you’ve gotta join a big social justice organization or you're not really doing anything to make change. That’s false. Start with your friends. Have the uncomfortable conversation about race and racism with your roommate or the people on your floor. Sit down and talk with your family about it. This changes the mindsets of those around you so that they can go out and have that conversation with other people they encounter. 

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

I hope the CCDIE will explore the environmental needs of students of color and how to address them. By that I mean, what do students of color need for campus to feel like home? It may be more people who look like them in the counseling center or as their professor. 

Is there anything else that you believe is important for our readership to know?

Remember it starts with you.

 

Julie ShockleyJulie Shockley

PSS3, Facilities & Plant Operations

How did you become interested in the CCDIE?

Many, many years ago I was asked by my departmental director to serve as a representative on what was then called the College Committee for Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action or simply the Diversity Committee. I’ve been a member ever since.

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work over the years?

The maintenance and operations staff are unique in many ways in comparison to other departments and divisions throughout the rest of the campus, and I hope I’ve been able to offer a different perspective, not only in conversations within the CCDIE, but also held with my departmental coworkers.

What advice would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

Just take the step and sign up for the Zoom symposium, seminar or training opportunity that’s available. During my early years as a staff member, I signed up to participate in a three-day program on campus called NCBI – National Coalition Building Institute and, not only was it a valuable learning experience, it gave me confidence to speak on things I know, ask about things I don’t and try to be an ally to my fellow humans.  

What do you hope the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

I would love to find a way for more individuals, staff in particular, to become involved. I’m not presumptuous enough to begin to know how or what that looks like, but I think that there are individuals who may want to get involved and don’t know how or where to begin.

Is there anything else that you believe is important for our readership to know?

I am honored to be interviewed for the inaugural newsletter. There are so many wonderful members of our Stockton community making such strides in the world for social justice awareness and education. I am humbled to be able to listen to them, learn from them and engaged with them to broaden my perspective.