Valuing the Promise of Diversity

Welcome, newly admitted students, to HGSE!  Some affectionately call this place Hug-see.  Others really hate that pronunciation and call it H-G-S-E.  Then there are students like myself who call it the Ed School.  Whatever name you decide to call this place, I really hope it will be your home for the next year!

For those admits reading this, come to the Ed School!  Hopefully your experience will be as joyous as mine has been so far! One reason I have had a great time at HGSE this year is due to the focus on diversity. Under the Dean’s theme of “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity,” students have really been grappling with what diversity means in all practices of our lives. Whether you are a teacher going back to the classroom, an administrator going into Higher Education, an educational technology innovator, or a future researcher, like myself, we must realize that America and the world is rapidly changing. White Americans will no longer be a majority by 2050, and Americans as a whole must learn to look forward to the future.

AOCC2

The Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC) Steering Committee worked hard this year to highlight the “The Other Narrative,” or stories that are marginalized in current discourse and narratives that are historically marginalized in society.  The AOCC was part of the real dialogue about diversity under the yearlong conversation about “Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity.” Photo Courtesy of AOCC 2015 Records.

Diversity means truly understanding the value of different viewpoints. It means not just valuing diversity for tokenism’s sake but because it truly impacts how we think and interact with people different from us. Just because I am a Bangladeshi American Muslim doesn’t mean that I don’t have to know about the experiences of my Hispanic or African American friends. Race, while it may be a social construct, still has huge implications on how people of color are treated in this country, and it has a huge impact on how educational opportunities are offered. The conversation at the Ed School has only begun to grapple with issues educational diversity and access – I truly hope it continues next year and in the years to come.

We all have to engage in this conversation, whether we want to or not. Our society is changing, and we must change with it. We, as admits or soon to be graduates of the Harvard Graduate School of Education must be at the forefront of understanding and leading these changes for a better, more equitable society that values diversity in reality, not just in rhetoric.

Irteza Binte-Farid is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Education Policy and Management program.  Having worked for QuestBridge, an education non-profit which matches low-income, first generation students to great colleges within the US, Irteza continues to be interested in the experience of first generation students in college. In the future, she is excited to enter the field of Higher Education Policy.

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