DuBOIS, Pa. — As Penn State prepares to transition to the 2023-24 academic year, a series of articles will highlight some of the major goals that Penn State DuBois aimed to achieve in 2022-23. One of those campus goals includes “fostering inclusion and belonging to promote student success,” which aligns with the University's broader goal of fostering greater diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) across the institution. Each of these areas points to the values and mission of Penn State to support all members of its community and beyond.
DEIB is our campus priority. Without DEIB, we cannot build an effective team essential to student success.
—Jungwoo Ryoo , chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State DuBois
“DEIB is our campus priority,” said Jungwoo Ryoo, chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State DuBois. “Without DEIB, we cannot build an effective team essential to student success. We are thrilled to share our DEIB journey in recent months, and I am looking forward to supporting future DEIB efforts as much as I can. Let’s be mindful and compassionate to seize every DEIB moment at Penn State DuBois.”
In 2020, the IDREAM team was created, which was reimagined from the original campus diversity team through an intensive needs assessment and campus community survey. IDREAM stands for:
- Racial equality
- Accountability and awareness
Since its creation, the IDREAM team has used thoughtful planning to position itself to best support students, faculty and staff at Penn State DuBois, as well as the surrounding communities that it serves.
Members of the IDREAM team at Penn State DuBois includes:
- Jackie Atkins, assistant teaching professor of English
- Jessica Clontz, assistant teaching professor of human development and family studies
- Marly Doty, assistant teaching professor of human development and family studies
- Diana Kreydt, student advocacy specialist
- Selena Price, lecturer in criminal justice
- Jungwoo Ryoo, chancellor and chief academic officer
- Brittany Stanton, assistant director of student engagement
Throughout the recently completed academic year, the IDREAM team organized numerous events that were aimed to bring awareness and educate students on many of the points that align with the foundational pillars of both DEIB and IDREAM. From educational events focused on different cultures around the world, to discussion groups on various topics, to performances on campus by different performers that highlight their own unique characteristics, Penn State DuBois hosted an abundance of events throughout the year.
All students get exposed to other cultures and learn about those cultures. It is easy to hate a culture when you can’t put a face and a name to that culture.
—Diana Kreydt , student advocacy specialist at Penn State DuBois
“It is so important to have greater diversity in the college arena because it benefits everyone,” Diana Kreydt, student advocacy specialist, said. “All students get exposed to other cultures and learn about those cultures. It is easy to hate a culture when you can’t put a face and a name to that culture. When you know that the student next to you is from that culture and does not fit the stereotypes, it begins to break down those stereotypes and create a more accepting world. It also helps students to accept themselves with all their differences. Students do better when they are exposed to different ideas and methods of learning through exposure to different cultures.”
Through funding received from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation, the IDREAM team was able to hire two student inclusion peers, begin building a DEIB library of books and films in the campus library, and celebrate a “Day of Peace” on campus on Aug. 30. The “Day of Peace” was a peaceful demonstration that aimed to spread the word that hate is not tolerated on campus or in the community.
An important event took place in October when Penn State DuBois hosted a daylong DEIB workshop titled “Engaging the head and the heart: a mindful approach to overcome bias.” With several facilitators from different universities and organizations, including Chancellor Ryoo, this event aimed to give each participant the tools they need to promote DEIB in their own sectors and to help individuals change their mindsets toward the biases that they have. The event took a deep dive into the impacts that biases in all forms have on the world and what the best ways are to overcome them. Participants also learned about how to bring mindful practices into their personal and professional lives.
The campus fully participated in Black History Month, with students, faculty and staff alike having the opportunity to learn about Black authors during the “Black Authors Matter” presentation held during the month. Students from English 139 presented posters celebrating Black American authors and the events that influenced their writing. These presentations shared important details about each author and served as an enlightening experience for the campus community.
Another highlight happened on Feb. 23 when the “Let’s Represent Art Show” took place in the PAW Center, highlighting artwork from the campus community based on the pillars that IDREAM stands for. This event marked the culmination of IDREAM week on campus, featuring activities like painting, bracelet making and a film showing featuring American abolitionist and social activist Harriet Tubman. The art show also was headlined by Jeanne Stevens-Sollman, a Penn State graduate who specializes in metal working. Stevens-Sollman has created several medals that have highlighted different aspects of social culture and the important figures who played big parts in those events. One of those medals commemorated the social concerns and injustice surrounding George Floyd’s death in 2020. That medal, which earned the 2021 American Medal of the Year presented by the American Medallic Sculptors Association, is part of a six-part metallic statement on current events titled “2020: America in Crisis.” Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is another individual featured in a medal by Stevens-Sollman.
The IDREAM Team hosted several discussion groups on various topics relating to inclusion and equality. During sessions on LGBTQ+, marijuana usage and legality, and mental health awareness, students had the opportunity to learn more about topics that have become part of their everyday lives while raising awareness about social issues that are often featured in the news and on social media. The team also hosted an e-course with biweekly discussions on race, power and privilege that included participation from first-year students.
Penn State DuBois has made it a point to increase awareness and improve the effectiveness of the support services that are available on campus. One of those services is the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, also known as “the CUE.” The CUE is designed to provide free tutoring and academic support services to all Penn State DuBois students. Whether it is one-on-one tutoring, group tutoring, or study skills workshops, the CUE can handle it all. As part of DEIB efforts, tutors are now embedded into classes, making it easier for students to receive tutoring help without the social stereotypes and pressures that can often come from asking for help in a central location. Efforts also are being made to incorporate more hands-on learning materials, which are often easier for students to understand when compared to simply reading a textbook.
“The CUE promotes DEIB both in its hiring practices and in its work with students,” Kreydt said. “In one situation, one of the tutors suggested that hiring another diverse student would upset the balance of the CUE. I did hire that tutor and he was a role model for the others. Everyone in the CUE worked together and we had a very successful semester. At the end of the semester, the tutor who had been against the hire spoke of his amazement at how well everyone interacted and worked together. Those two tutors became lifelong friends and support each other still today.”
“In another situation, I hired a student from China as a math tutor,” Kreydt added. “Students were hesitant to see her at first, but they soon learned that she knew math techniques that they had never been taught, which she readily shared. By the end of the semester, she was one of the most sought-after tutors and her tutees learned immensely from her.”
The campus also has its own office for student disability resources. The goal of this office is to provide a welcoming, encouraging and empowering environment for all students with disabilities, so that each student has equal access, full participation and reasonable accommodations met for their academic pursuits. Autism, attention deficit disorder, hearing, vision, learning disabilities, psychological disorders, physical health disorders, mobility impairments and neurological disorders are all recognized by Penn State as disabilities where accommodations can be made to assist students who provide verification. Disabilities cannot and will not prevent a student from having the full Penn State DuBois experience and the office for student disability resources makes sure that can happen for every student.
The IDREAM team made it our mission to make sure we were doing our part to promote DEIB on campus and I believe we all are pleased, thus far, with our accomplishments.
—Selena Price , lecturer in criminal justice at Penn State DuBois
“The IDREAM team made it our mission to make sure we were doing our part to promote DEIB on campus,” Selena Price, lecturer in criminal justice, said. “And I believe we all are pleased, thus far, with our accomplishments. Our committee is going strong, growing and hopeful that we can continue to make positive change on campus and in the community. I believe the IDREAM team is willing to take on many challenges and continue doing our part to support DEIB initiatives.”
A future article will highlight some of the IDREAM team's upcoming plans, including events that will be open to the entire community that Penn State DuBois serves. Community members who are interested in getting involved with the IDREAM team through an event or idea are encouraged to contact Price through email here.