The American Higher Education system is often hailed as the great equalizer, an important vehicle for upward social and economic mobility, wealth generation, and access to leadership positions. However, historically, certain groups have struggled to fully participate in higher education.
The current focus on diversity is not just a call for access, equity, and inclusion. It is a movement to strengthen systems and institutions by incorporating inclusive strategies to ensure their services, products, and investments are more applicable to broader populations and growing markets. In developing future leaders who can thrive within the growing global economy, students and their families need to be intentional in how they evaluate diversity at prospective colleges and universities and, more importantly, how they incorporate diversity in their own education and career planning.
The smash-hit Hamilton led the charge in diversifying role opportunities for performers of color on Broadway. In the number, “The Room Where it Happens” Hamilton underscores the importance of securing a seat at the table, especially when key decisions are being discussed. In considering college education — students are working to gain access to classrooms where they will gain the knowledge, skills, and connections necessary to succeed in the workforce.
- Leverage your electives and select classes to learn about different cultures — consider history and language courses to which you haven’t previously been exposed. If you already speak more than one language, consider upper-level courses to expand your proficiency.
- Participate in events geared toward celebrating and sharing different cultures. Learn about the traditions and values of other groups to widen your horizons and expand your own interpersonal contacts.
- Keep an open mind and check your biases. Do not assume someone was admitted based on their racial/ethnic background rather than their academic achievements.
- Internships: Consider interning at organizations that are run by leaders from underrepresented groups, not just ones that serve those populations.
- Expand your media consumption. Select music, movies, and all forms of online and live entertainment from different cultures and genres. You may be surprised by what you learn and enjoy.