Q&A: Meet the Diversity Student Ambassadors

Diversity Student Ambassadors President Kijana Mitchell (right) and Secretary Ashley Garcia discuss the goals of their organization. Applications will open in October to join the group, Mitchell said.

In honor of our People of the Pride issue, we at The Flor-Ala decided to sit down with officers of Diversity Student Ambassadors. We featured the group because they represent an effort to include all students of UNA, much like our own goals. Check out this Q&A with juniors President Kijana Mitchell and Secretary Ashley Garcia to learn more about this registered student organization.

Q: What’s the most important thing you want to students to know about your organization?

KM: We are here to be advocates for diversity, promote inclusion on campus, promote meaningful conversations and promote change. We want students to feel comfortable coming to us with ideas and just be present at events.

AG: I really want to allow people to understand how a certain group’s culture makes them different, but yet how to move past that and be able to include them and make them feel accepted.

Q: Why is diversity important?

AG: I would say diversity is important because people don’t really realize how diverse a college campus can be. We’re not really geared toward just gender diversity. There’s so many qualities that fit underneath that. That’s something that being an ambassador has opened my eyes to. So, if I had that issue, then I feel like others can realize how diverse their campus is or how to include people in this campus.

Q: What made you decide to be Diversity Student Ambassadors?

KM: When I came to UNA, I realized that it was a magnificent school, and I just felt like there were certain areas that could be improved upon. The area of diversity, I felt like, was an area that I would really like to be engaged in because I feel very passionate about diverse issues and social justice issues. That’s something that the Diversity Student Ambassadors really focus on, so I knew the group was for me. Being a voice for people who don’t get to speak out as much as they would like to is an important factor for me.

AG: I’m really passionate about other cultures. My minor is Spanish, and I realized that there are so many cultures in just the United States, and abroad of course. But, the reason I wanted to be a Diversity Student Ambassador was to be able to really open my mind to being an understanding individual. I think once you become dedicated to learning about another culture, you become eager to show people that side. For me being a Diversity Student Ambassador, I want to be aware of many different cultures to be able to share that with others and create an inclusive environment.

Q: What has been your favorite part of working with this organization so far?

KM: One thing I did get to participate in was a Social Justice Institute training that I attended over the summer in Ohio. I was exposed to so many different perspectives. I consider myself not an expert in diverse issues and social justice issues, but I consider myself fairly well versed in the different issues that go along with those (areas). This institute broadened those perspectives. That’s really the whole point of college. The things that I learned there, we plan to bring back to UNA. I feel like that had a huge impact.

AG: I would say Culture Fest. I thought it was really neat to dig in and engage in different types of music and food. I think it was a great way to open up the year to more inclusive events that DSA is going to bring to campus.

Q: Is there still time for interested students to join?

KM: Yes. We will definitely be sending out emails via UNA Digest when the applications open in October, and we’ll have flyers in the (residence halls) and on campus and on our social media pages coming soon.