Day: December 3, 2019

Impact – Fall 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the University of Central Oklahoma, and welcome to the fam! The Office of Diversity and Inclusion advances cultural competence while implementing opportunities for our diverse communities to learn, thrive and succeed.

Highlights inside this issue

Meet the Team

Meet those who make up the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and help make all the goals and objectives of the office a reality.

Diversity Retention

Learn more about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Student Success Initiatives and how these invaluable programs are helping students thrive and persist to graduation.

Diversity Enrichment

Learn more about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Diversity Enrichment and the impactful programs that are changing and transforming our students’ lives.

Table of Contents

Letter from the Director

Meet Our Team

Office Structure, Measures of Success and Who We Serve

Diversity Retention

Diversity Enrichment

Women’s Outreach Center

Diversity Leadership Institute

Chickasaw Nation

From the Student’s Desk

ODI Alumni Spotlight

Upcoming Events

Letter from the Director

Greetings University of Central Oklahoma Community,

I am excited to share with you the impactful and invaluable programs and services provided by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Women’s Outreach Center is to advance cultural competence while providing opportunities for our diverse communities to learn, thrive, and succeed. As we continually work to fulfill our mission, we strive to create, maintain, and altogether champion a university culture where diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the forefront of everything we do.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion begins this new academic year focused on expounding the programs and services we provide that truly speak to the core of our mission. From hosting annual programs that introduce students to the histories, cultures, and traditions of diverse cultures, to facilitating difficult discussions that tackle topics including race, culture, gender, privilege, microaggressions, and implicit bias our goal is to equip UCO students with the knowledge, awareness, and skills they need to successfully navigate this increasingly global and multicultural world.

In addition, we are enthusiastic to work alongside our campus partners to coordinate the Student Success Initiatives. There is no one-size-fits-all model when serving and supporting students and the Black Male Initiative, Hispanic Success Initiative, LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, and Native American Success Initiative provide the coaching, support, and information that students need to continue their journey toward college graduation.

We look forward to sharing additional details about our programs and services, as well as provide data on their impact and outcomes of our key performance indicators for 2019-2020 with the UCO community. The work done by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Women’s Outreach Center not only educates students while providing them a sense of belonging and connection, it changes students’ lives. We look forward to continuing to work with the university community to grow and expand this pursuit.

Have a successful fall semester!

MeShawn Green
Director of Equity and Inclusion

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Meet the Team

Meet the team that powers the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Central Oklahoma!

photo of MeShawn Green

MeShawn Green, Director of Equity and Inclusion

photo of Dene Roseburr-Oloty

Dene Roseburr-Oloty, Assistant Director, Diversity Retention

photo of Liz Tabak

Liz Tabak, Coordinator of Diversity Education

photo of Kristie Thurmon

Kristie Thurmon, Administrative Assistant

photo of Gigi Jones

Gigi Jones, Graduate Assistant, Black Male Initiative

photo of Raven Wahkinney

Raven Wahkinney, Graduate Assistant, Native American Success Initiative

photo of Alivia Henry

Alivia Henry, Graduate Adviser, Black Student Association, Native American Student Association

photo of Jaely Wright

Jaely Wright, Graduate Adviser, Hispanic American Student Association, Asian American Student Association

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Diversity Retention

The Black Male Initiative (BMI)

photo of students sitting in classroom

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Black Male Initiative is going into its 6th year this academic year. This distinguished program, which began Fall 2014, increases the fall-to-fall retention of black males on campus. For the 2018-2019 cohort, students who participated in the Black Male Initiative were retained at a higher rate (58.2% retention rate) than first-time full-time black male freshman who did not (55% retention rate). These young men also boasted an average GPA that was 14.8% percentage points higher than their first-time full-time black male freshman counterparts who did not participate in the program.

An essential part of the academic success of our program is the Black Male Initiative Success Central course that introduces black male students to the UCO culture, as well as helping them navigate our university in hopes that they will get the most out of the college experience. Freshman participants of our program are each given a mentor to help guide them through the hurdles that many black students face their first year at a higher education institution. Tutoring, campus involvement, leadership, and philanthropy, are just a few things our mentors push their mentees into engaging in on campus.

Student Spotlight: Christian Coleman

photo of Christian Coleman

Christian Coleman

One of the biggest attributes to diversity retention is student involvement and engagement. The Black Male Initiative is constantly promoting the idea that students not only find their sense of belonging within our programs but that they go out and contribute to the university community as a whole. Many of our Black Male Initiative students take this mantra to heart and we’d like to highlight one in particular; Christian Coleman.

Christian Coleman is a sophomore who participated as a Black Male Initiative Mentee during the Fall 2018 cohort and now serves as a Black Male Initiative Fellow (or mentor). His passion for leadership and service learning evolved into him serving as a staple in Leaders for Tomorrow and as a UCO Student Ambassador. His ambition and the support that he received not only from the Black Male Initiative, but the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as a whole empowered him to step up. Now, he has the honor of serving as the vice president of UCOSA.

The Hispanic Success Initiative (HSI)

photo of HSI group smiling

The Hispanic Success Initiative began Fall of 2015 and is a collaborative initiative between the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and UCO’s Latino Faculty and Staff Association. The purpose of the Hispanic Success Initiative is to promote a sense of belonging to the UCO and Oklahoma City community for students and impacts their academic success and career possibilities. This purpose is achieved through a variety of learning opportunities and experiences that foster development and exploration of identity and activities that cultivate connections within the UCO community. In particular, the Hispanic Success Initiative utilizes the Integrative Knowledge Portfolio Process (IKPP) to assist students in discovering their core capacities and strengths while they create relationships with other students and their faculty / staff mentors and learn about on-campus support programs.

Student Spotlight: Thalia Rodriguez

photo of Thalia Rodriguez

Thalia Rodriguez

Thalia Rodriguez is an Oklahoma City native graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma in December with a bachelor’s in Political Science – International Relations and a minor in French. She is active with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with involvement including the Hispanic Success Initiative, Diversity Round Table, and the Hispanic American Student Association just to name a few. Additionally, she has received the President’s Leadership Council Scholarship, is a Student Ambassador and a McNair Scholar. This past May, Thalia had the opportunity to study abroad in Uganda with UCO’s Leadership Central office. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, engage in riveting discussions, and binge watch Our Planet on Netflix.

The Native American Success Initiative (NASI)

photo of NASI group sitting outside

During the 2017-18 academic year, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion partnered with Academic Affairs, the Native American Faculty and Staff Association, and several passionate professors to establish the Native American Success Initiative (NASI). The purpose of this Student Success Initiative is to bridge the gap of persistence for native students by finding solutions unique to the barriers faced by those who identify as indigenous. In this regard, the Native American Success Initiative has proven that it has the potential to make great change for young natives entering into college. Students who participated in the Native American Success Initiative were retained at a higher rate (73.3% retention rate) than first-time full-time native freshman who did not (61.0% retention rate).

Along with peer mentors and cohort classes, the program also provides enrichment to student participants while also exploring the impact that native and tribal culture may have on a student’s academic success. For many students, participation in the Native American Success Initiative has served as a stepping-stone to student leadership and further campus involvement.

Student Spotlight: Mickey Loveless, II

photo of Mickey Loveless

Mickey Loveless

Mickey Loveless II, is a sophomore majoring in computer science. He is a part of the Citizen of Potawatomi Nation and was a NASI mentee during the 2018-2019 academic school year. Through his participation with NASI, Mickey was encouraged to take on leadership roles while creating a strong connection to his Native American culture. This summer he was selected to participate in the prestigious Potawatomi Leadership Program. This year, Mickey will serve as not only a mentor of the NASI program but as the President of the Native American Student Association as well.

The LGBTQ+ Success Initiative

Beginning this fall, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion has the honor of partnering with the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Association and the Women’s Research Center in establishing the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to promote a sense of belonging while addressing the academic, social, and psychological needs of students who identify as LGBTQ+. These goals are accomplished through a wide range of intentionally designed and carefully coordinated co-curricular and social programs to help students transition to UCO’s campus and ultimately persist to graduation.

Meet Our Peer Mentors

Alaska Doolin

photo of Alaska Doolin

Alaska Doolin

Alaska Doolin is double majoring in Modern Language- French and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. She loves to play with her dogs and read. She chose to be a part of the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative because she thinks that having a friend to lean on can potentially help the mentees have a better college experience.

Andrew Hedges

photo of Andrew Hedges

Andrew Hedges

Andrew Hedges (He/him) is a Junior psychology Major who is also minoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality studies. Along with being a mentor for the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, he is also a student researcher on Conversion Therapy in the United States.

Jacob Reavis

photo of Jacob Reavis

Jacob Reavis

Jacob Reavis is majoring in History while also minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies. In addition to serving as a mentor to the LGBTQ+ Success Initiative, he also works as a student researcher and library assistant at the Women’s Research Center and BGLTQ+ Student Center.

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Structure and Measures of Success

Structure of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is comprised of three functional areas: The Women’s Outreach Center, Diversity Retention, and Diversity Enrichment. Through the efforts of each of these areas the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is able to implement programs and services that directly speak to not only the vision of the University of Central Oklahoma as we empower students to become productive, creative, ethical and engaged citizens and leaders serving our global community, but to the mission of the office as well.

Who We Serve

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, an unwavering staple for many students at the University of Central Oklahoma, serves students from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Notably, our initiative programs are comprised of approximately 80% of students who are first generation, low-income students.

Measures of Success for the 2019-20 Academic Year

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has established the following key performance indicators to measure the strategic effectiveness of its programs and services for the 2019-20 academic year:

  • 10% higher retention rate for students in the Student Success Initiative programs and who serve in a leadership role in one of the student organizations advised through the ODI when compared to their peers.
  • 10% higher average GPA for students in Student Success Initiative programs and who serve in a leadership role in one of the student organizations advised through the ODI when compared to their peers.
  • 7 students will reflect (through STLR) on their experiences while in the ODI / WOC spaces.
  • 30 students will attend the Diversity Leadership Institute.
  • 10 freshman who are active in DRT or in the Student Success Initiatives will explore leadership opportunities their sophomore year.

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Diversity Enrichment

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion promotes an educational environment that recognizes and celebrates the diverse cultures present at the University of Central Oklahoma. One of our fundamental goals is to cultivate opportunities for students to explore their diverse ideologies beyond their cultural norms through campus programs and events. This goal is met through the work facilitated by the eight student organizations directly advised through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. These eight student organizations are: Diversity Round Table, Asian American Student Association, American Association of University Women, Black Student Association, NAACP, Native American Student Association, Hispanic American Student Association, Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE) and S.T.A.R.S. Multicultural Honor Society.

Additionally, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion strives to promote leadership development and leadership exposure for underrepresented students. The goal of the office is for the students involved in the organizations to continue to grow and harness their leadership skills so that they can foster positive social change.

Impactful Event: March for Isaiah Lewis

photo of group of students advocating for Isaiah Lewis

“I will continue to advocate and seek justice for Isaiah Lewis and the countless others who have lost their lives…” — Kristi Rose, Black Student Association President

Upset by the event and looking for justice, Diversity Round Table, Black Student Association (BSA), NAACP and National Pan-Hellenic Council worked collectively to construct a march to raise awareness for Isaiah. On May 3, 2019, the students marched from the University to the Edmond Police Station, rain and all. Their advocacy did not stop there: there were countless calls to the District Attorney, and current BSA President Kristi Rose even reached out to Isaiah’s mother. On Aug. 24, 2019, the BSA held a carwash to raise money for the Lewis family to support them in their needs. When referring to why this cause was important, Kristi had this to say: “I chose to advocate for Isaiah Lewis because this appears to have been a preventable death. Repeated instance of excessive force against black men and women have become far too common in our nation. The media has shown it almost daily to the point that people are desensitized to the issue. I have yet to become desensitized, my heart is broken for the family, friends and classmates of this teenage boy that needed help, not death. I will continue to advocate and seek justice for Isaiah Lewis, and the countless others that have lost their lives…”

Impactful Event: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

“We wanted to bring awareness to campus to have people understand that this is happening everywhere…” —Savannah Anderson, Diversity Round Table President

In the indigenous community, there has been a rise of women who have been reported missing or murdered. Impacted by these events, the Native American Student Association created a week to raise awareness to this issue, called Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The events for the week included an informational panel, a candle light vigil and a self-defense class with the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic. In regards to the impactful week, former Native American Student Association president and current Diversity Round Table President, Savannah Anderson made the following statement: “I chose to create MMIW week because it is a continuously growing problem in the Native American community that was not being talked about in other Native groups. It is also a subject that my board and I were extremely passionate about. We wanted to bring awareness to campus to have people understand that this is happening everywhere. We also wanted to honor our sisters who have gone missing without being found or murdered without justice ever being served.”

Student Spotlight: Vivian Bunch

photo of Vivian Bunch

Vivian Bunch

Vivian Bunch is a Panamanian woman as well as a member of the Cherokee nation. In the spring of 2017, she graduated from Morrison High School and began her next steps by attending the University of Central Oklahoma. She was an active member of the Hispanic Success Initiative and the Native American Student Association. As a current junior on campus, she is pursuing her degree in Human Resource Management with a minor in Spanish.

In her free time, she serves as the treasurer for the Native American Student Association. She was also selected as the Lead Peer Fellow for the Hispanic Success Initiative where she helps twelve Peer Fellows coordinate service learning activities as well as reflect and connect sessions with 50 current freshman. She has stated that through ‘the programs and organizations of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I have further developed a unique set of leadership skills as well as found a devoted community away from home.”

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Women’s Outreach Center

The Women’s Outreach Center offers meaningful programing touching upon the experiences of students, faculty, and staff who live as women. From in-depth discussions of literature, to the issues women encounter on a daily basis, the WOC serves to equip and empower women with the knowledge and skills to serve them long after they graduate from UCO. A major part of the mission of the Women’s Outreach Center is to connect women with the resources to help them step into roles of leadership, both in the campus community, and in the wider world. The Women’s Outreach Center is collaborating with Dr. Nadia Al-Aboody of Southern Technical University in Al-Basrah, Iraq to create a Women’s Leadership Cohort program in Iraq. The program will consist of public speaking, networking, and professional communication, adapted for Iraqi culture. In November 2019, components of the program will be utilized for a nationwide university conference for Iraqi women in STEM majors.

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Diversity Leadership Institute

The Office of Diversity’s Diversity Leadership Institute (DLI) offers participants an opportunity to put theory in practice as they experience the sights and culture of another city through the lens of adult learning theory. This institute is designed so that student participants engage in intentional cultural competence development while providing opportunities for introspective reflection. The DLI purposefully creates a space that encourages students to become culturally competent leaders who are challenged to asses their perceptions about themselves and others with regards to differences.

In 2019, the DLI convened in Atlanta, GA. Previous cities in which the institute was held include: New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and, Washington, D.C.

The extraordinary work done by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, in particular the DLI, recently was recognized by the Masonic Foundation and received the 2019 Transformative Learning Program Award.

group of uco students at Atlanta airport

Diversity Leadership Institute group at the Atlanta Airport.

From Student Participants:

“It made me realize that my actions or inactions affect the people and event that happen around me.” — 2018 DLI student participant

“The conference has pushed me to become more open with understanding people who come from different backgrounds and upbringings compared to me.” — 2019 DLI student participant

“DLI helped me reflect and begin to accept myself, oddities and all, rather than seeking external validation.” — 2019 DLI student participant

“One of the biggest actions I will bring back to campus and home will be to inform others that you shouldn’t judge another group / community until you have a deep and personal experience about what they’ve been through and what they are going through now.” — 2019 DLI student participant

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Chickasaw Nation Recruitment and Retention Program

Chokka’ Cilimpi’

“Strengthening Cultural connection through cultural activities, guest lectures and social events.”

The Chickasaw Nation Recruitment and Retention Program assists with identifying tribal services, navigating campus resources and exploring career options.

For more information contact Bill Anoatubby, Governor: 405-974-8943 or visit www,

View the Flyer

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From the Student’s Desk

A Word from Mindy Vo

Being on the Asian American Student Association (AASA) executive board for the second year has been a wild adventure. I was previously the historian for the AASA 2018-19 executive board. This year, I have taken on the role as president, which so far has been a great experience for me. I have learned so much working with my board to plan our biggest and upcoming event, the Asian Moon Festival. We have hit some bumps in the road, but we are lucky enough to have incredible advisors that helped guide us in the right direction.

Though there are many stressful moments when it comes to leading an organization, I still love what I do and am thankful for the opportunities presented to me by AASA and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has provided me a home on campus. I have been able to gain so many new friends and family in the office. Having a comfortable place to connect with other people in an engaging environment is why I enjoy being in the ODI. All in all, I’m happy to be able to spread awareness of Asian cultures across campus and to collaborate with different organizations.

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ODI Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Diontrey Thompson

Our alumni spotlight is Dr. Diontrey Thompson, Associate Dean and Executive Director for Residential Learning at Stanford University. Dr. Thompson completed his doctoral program in Organizational Change and Leadership in 2018. His dissertation, which he titled “Uncovered: Finding and Being Authentically Myself in the Workplace,” was a perceptive examination of the ways that workplace culture affects inclusion, diversity and authenticity. He is driven by a desire to advance equity for historically marginalized students.

That commitment has shaped much of his work at Stanford, beginning in 2011 when he served as a program associate for residential education. Later he served as associate director of the Black Community Services Center, assistant dean of students, and assistant dean and director of equity and education. He has advised students, led diversity training, developed intercultural programming and collaborated with community stakeholders to spark campus dialogue on social justice issues. He is also a lecturer at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Thompson currently is leading Stanford’s Task Force on Community Centers and Community Advocacy. One of the goals of the group is to create a safe place for students from underserved populations, who often feel they don’t belong at an elite university, to connect with administration and share their experience of isolation and alienation. Through this effort, Dr. Thompson is leading a very important conversation and holding up the mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at University Central Oklahoma of implementing opportunities for diverse communities to learn, thrive, and succeed.

While the University of Central Oklahoma provided Dr. Thompson a renowned education (Human Resource Management, 2005), he found a home in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The space that welcomed, nurtured, and challenged him to become the person he is today. The Office of Diversity Inclusion was his first introduction to the work of diversity and inclusion as well as a training ground to do this work in the world. If Dr. Thompson could offer any advice to a fellow Broncho, it would be to remember, “there is someone depending on you being you, so they can be them.” This simply means that as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” (Williamson, 1992).

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Upcoming Events

photo of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion Fall 2019 Calendar

ODI Fall 2019 Calendar of Events

September 2019

11 – Debate Night September
Black Student Association

12 – Intros
Black Student Association

17 – “Its Lit,” Lunch and Literature Discussion
UCO Women’s Outreach Center

18 – LatinX Heritage Month Kickoff, “Primeros Pasos a UCO Connection”
Sponsored by the UCO Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Hispanic American Student Association and the LatinX Heritage Month Task Force

24 – State of the Community Forum

25 – Immigration Forum

27 – Asian Moon Festival
Asian American Student Association

October 2019

5 – Fiestas De Las Americas Participation
Hispanic American Student Association

10 – Salsa Under the Stars
Hispanic American Student Association

11 – National Coming Out Day Observance

12 – Edmond Pride
E.C. Hafer Park

14 – Indigenous People Day
Sponsored by the UCO Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the UCO Women’s Outreach Center

23 – “It’s Lit,” Lunch and Literature Discussion
UCO Women’s Outreach Center

29 – LGBTQ History Forum

November 2019

1 – Dia de los Muertos
Hispanic American Student Association

6 – Native American Heritage Month Kickoff
in the Nigh University Center Ballrooms

14 – MLK Oratory Competition, Round 1

16 – Miss Native American UCO
Native American Student Association

27 – Pho Night
Asian American Student Association

December 2019

3 – World AIDS Day Panel and Commemoration

3 – Kwanza Celebration
Black Student Association

7 – Miss Asian UCO
Asian American Student Association


For more information about the events and services of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,

Room 211, Nigh University Center

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