Working with the National Center for Institutional Diversity I was exposed to many new skills as well as learned a lot about the field of education. Before starting this project, I had never done archival research and did not know what to expect. It actually turned out to be harder than I expected for me. It’s easy to find administrative files, but trying to get a picture of how the university was like for students of color was difficult. The only archives that were helpful where the boxes under Minority Student Services and the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs. With that being said, I understood that you can also learn from the things that you can’t find. For example, what does it mean when you can’t find any material on Latinx Greek Organizations or the creation of the Multicultural lounges? This leads to new questions and new items to do further research.
This project also allowed me to learn more about student leaders before me that were able to organize and change the institution to make it more accessible to their own communities. Learning that sometimes policy doesn’t always work and that students have to do more to create some pressure to finally see differences in the campus community. Change doesn’t come right away and it takes a lot of organization and patience to persuade others to understand another’s point of view. U of M isn’t perfect, but because of the students and faculty putting in the extra time outside of class and work to pursue institutional change, we are improving and creating a more inclusive and better learning environment for everyone. It has given me new perspectives and ideas for the organizations that I am currently a part of.
Being able to work with people that are so passionate about the access to education has also left me thinking about new options and career fields to explore after graduation. Education opens doors to so many opportunities and experiences. Even though I haven’t graduated yet, being at the University of Michigan has already given me so much. I never thought that I would be working alongside with doctoral students and to be able to research topics that are personally significant to me. Knowing that there are so many others out there that do not have these opportunities, makes this work that much more important. There is a lot of work to be done to make education possible for everyone as well as to make institutions more accessible for its own students, and I can see myself continuing this work to give the opportunities I was given to others.