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SAB organizes diversity speaker series and panel

Ohio University’s Student Alumni Board will be hosting a series about diversity in the workplace beginning in February. 

The series was inspired by an event held exclusively for SAB last year, which consisted of three speakers from various diversity organizations on campus who spoke with SAB about diversity in the workplace, Jacob Myers, vice president of professional development for SAB, said. 

Inspired by last year’s speakers, Myers worked with Reagan Newton, the diversity, equity and inclusion chair for SAB, to find a way to expand and improve upon the event. Due to the success of last year’s diversity in the workplace presentations, Newton and Myers believed expansion was feasible, Newton said. 

“The main goal of the events is to, not even spread awareness, but give people resources and real-world experiences as to how diversity is played out for real people,” Myers said.

The series will consist of four events — three individual speakers and one panel and networking event. The first event is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb 16. 

Haleemah Atobiloye, a 2022 OU alumna currently working as a program manager for Breast Cancer Action, will address students through Microsoft Teams at the first meeting.

“It's everyone's responsibility to consider diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, but sometimes you need specific people to make that their full time job or to put all of their resources into that,” Newton said. “They are going to hopefully teach the students how they can still contribute to a productive work environment without being specifically in a role that's designed to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

SAB had multiple reasons they asked Atobiloye to speak, including her experience as a first-generation student at OU, Myers said. He and his team believe it is valuable to have a speaker who is able to relate experiences with first generation students at OU.

Jasmyn Pearl, who is a 2019 OU alumna, will be leading the second event on Feb. 21, from 5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Pearl will address students in-person in Walter Hall room 135. An online option will also be available for those unable to attend in-person, according to the Diversity Series website.

Pearl was asked to speak largely due to her variety of work experiences, including working with the NAACP to being an active member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Myers said.

To round out the individual speakers, Destiny Fordham, a 2016 and 2020 OU alumna currently working as a diversity and inclusion specialist with the Center for Employment Opportunities, will address students on Feb. 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. 

Fordham’s talk will be largely focused on answering broad questions regarding diversity and inclusion, Myers said.

The last event in the series is a discussion with a panel consisting of five speakers, followed by a networking event to allow students to ask further questions and develop connections. This portion of the series will take place on Feb. 26, from 4:45 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. - 7:30 p.m., respectively.

“I think it's (the diversity series) important on a couple of different levels. … Saying, ‘Hey, this is what life can look like, on the other side of graduation’ is immensely helpful,” Patricia Stokes, a women’s gender and sexuality studies professor, said. “I know there's a real appetite for students trying to envision their post-graduation plans. That's true across the board, but if you are someone who is from multiple marginalized groups, the need for that, I think, is more acute.”


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