For Kelly Hermann, the vice president of accessibility, equity and inclusion at UOPX, going to college represented a lot of firsts: She was a first-generation student who came from a tightknit Irish Catholic community in New York. When she went to college, she found herself decidedly out of her element.
“I’m Catholic, and I went through Catholic school,” Hermann explains. “I didn’t meet someone who wasn’t Catholic until I went to college.”
College, in other words, was a springboard Hermann used to jump into a sea of new people and experiences. It broadened her understanding of the world and enriched it with new awareness. It shaped her career.
Hermann is not alone. Experiencing diversity in college not only draws awareness to the differences. It can also create a pathway to finding commonality.
UOPX alumna Trina Limpert sees the value in this experience. As the CEO of the DEI consulting firm, RizeNext, she routinely works with leadership from companies across the country to effectively implement DEI strategies within their organizations. College diversity can impact that work for the better.
“Lack of diversity in faculty, educational leaders and students further limits our shared experiences and enforces biases that exist in society,” she says.
The takeaway? College diversity can lay the groundwork for better sensitivity, awareness and collaboration down the road. Because, according to Hermann, Dr. Underwood and Limpert, we need it.