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Meet the DEI: Lara Liptak

Profiling the Mosaic Center's Diversity Educator Interns

The Diversity Educator Interns are a mix of six, talented undergraduate and graduate students who work to fulfill the Mosaic Center's mission and vision. The DEIs co-facilitate cross-cultural and diversity awareness discussions and educational workshops for UMBC student, staff and faculty groups by request. Want to know more or want the DEIs to present to your class or group? Contact mosaic@umbc.edu.

Q: What is your year and major at UMBC?

A: I am a second year graduate student in the Intercultural Communication Master's program.

Q: How is your major applicable to diversity education?

A: Well…in my program we discuss and apply the concepts and definitions within culture to current events, personal experiences, and many other places.  What I am learning in my program directly relates to diversity and the conflicts that arise and what can be done.

Q: Why did you decide to apply for the Diversity Educator Internship?

A: I applied for two main reasons: (1) to apply the skills I have learned in my master's program to the facilitation and presentation of diversity concepts and campus workshops.  (2) to contribute to an environment that is accepting, appreciative, and understanding of diverse populations.

Q: How would you define diversity?

A: For me, diversity is a state, a state that is composed of many different races and ethnicities functioning and working together.  Within these different races and ethnicities exists distinct practices, behaviors, and customs.  In turn, functioning in a state of diversity signifies enrichment of knowledge and information that would not otherwise be known, recognized, or acknowledged.

Q: How does UMBC foster an appreciation for diversity?

A: Many offices and departments at UMBC provide opportunities for observation, participation, and leadership in a multitude of programs.  The Office of Student Life creates and implements programs, events and workshops, in which students and faculty can take part.  In addition, this office serves to educate and involve all departments on campus, such as the Modern Language department and the Gender studies department, to host events that encourage appreciation and discussion of diversity topics and issues.              

Q: What are ways that students can participate in advocacy for diversity?

A: The opportunities to act as an advocate are endless.  Students who desire to participate but do not want to take on the responsibility that being a leader entails can attend any dialogue, workshop, or event that is hosted.  However, being an advocate does not simply imply attending and participating in specific events.  Being an advocate is a daily act that is fulfilled everywhere someone goes.  An advocate is a representative of and model for diverse appreciation and understanding.  An advocate stands up for the beliefs, practices, and customs of others in that no one individual should be discriminated against or stereotyped.  Therefore, being advocate means having a security in one's own beliefs but a simultaneous mindfulness and appreciation for the beliefs of others, and the acting upon this.

Q: After graduating how will you continue to be an advocate for diversity?

A: Of course, whatever field I go into should have something to do with Intercultural Communication.  I would love to be a diversity trainer or a Spanish teacher.  Either way, I will carry out what I have learned while at UMBC and during this internship into all aspects of my life after graduation.  I will continue to act as an advocate no matter who I am with and where I am.  In my opinion, every situation and every moment provides a possibility for diversity education, however small the lesson.


Posted: March 12, 2012, 9:53 AM