In recognition of Global Diversity Awareness Month, students were asked to submit art, video performances, or writings on what it means to be part of a campus ranked as the most diverse four-year public university in the country.
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo celebrated Global Diversity Awareness Month last week by recognizing student art, performances, and writings on what it means for the campus to be the most diverse four-year public university in the country. Three students—Allison Dupre, Diamond Mundy, and Jacinda Lee Angelsberg—who each won a $500 prize for their creative works, were recognized at an event held on the Campus Center Plaza celebrating UH Hilo’s diversity ranking by the Chronicle of Higher Education 2018 Almanac. Students, faculty and staff gathered to listen to live music, interact with campus organizations, and admire the works of the students who competed in the art/poetry/performance contest.
“The purpose of the fair was to celebrate University of Hawai‘i at Hilo being the most diverse university in the U.S. by providing an opportunity for a diverse group of students, faculty and staff to gather and enjoy an afternoon together,” says Dana Ko‘omoa-Lange, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences who chairs the UH Hilo Diversity Committee that organized the event.
To celebrate the diversity of the student body, the Diversity Committee requested that interested students submit creative works highlighting what it means to be attending the most diverse four-year university in the country. Entries could be written work, artwork, or performance art. Students competed for awards including a $500 Inspired by Each Other Scholarship, Vulcan tickets, and t-shirts.
“We decided as a committee that we wanted the student presentations to be an opportunity for students to share what it means to be a part of the most diverse university, to get the students’ perspectives,” says Ko‘omoa-Lange.
The following winners each received a $500 scholarship called “Inspired by Each Other.”
UH Hilo business major Allison Dupre, who hails from Anchorage, AK, won the $500 prize with her work, “The Diversity Tree,” a mixed media piece—the top part of the piece is melted crayon wax, the black paint is acrylic, and the lettering is stickers. The lettering spells out a quotation by American entrepreneur Malcolm Forbes: “Diversity, the art of thinking independently together.”
“It represents everybody’s unique and individual personality, and since UH is one of the most diverse schools here in the U.S., it [represents] that we’re all together as a community, and we’re all here for one purpose, which is education, whether educating or being educated,” says Dupre. “It represents our community and where we come from and how we’re all here together.”
Student Jacinda Lee Angelsberg also won a $500 scholarship with her poem, “Embracing the Rainbow of Diversity.” Angelsberg, whose hometown is Hilo, is earning baccalaureate degrees in psychology and Japanese. Her winning poem:
Embracing the Rainbow of Diversity
In this world of racist commotion
Each person is a separate drop
Reluctant to form an ocean
Racism ceases to stop
Brotherly love is a sea
Of limitless possibilities
That very few seem to see
Reduce clashing waves of hostilities
By valuing the rainbow of ethnic diversity
For its colors are mixed together without division
Teach loving-kindness in Hawaii’s university
To achieve the awakening vision
Of oneness and acceptance
Not appreciating the ostracized minority
Drains equality of its unifying essence
As the unenlightened majority
To beloved cultural differences
Opposing mindsets so one-sided
Create the hindrances
Of togetherness and harmony in society
Judging based on ethnicity
Pigment tones have a unique variety
Yet all souls are bounded by connected elasticity
And are the same, beautiful hue
Do not remain separated and divisively torn
Apart to understand an equal view
Within thy heart so unity shan’t become forlorn
Unwillingness to embrace
Regardless of colored skin
Prevents humanity from being a kin
People are not meant to disperse
In this diverse universe
Spread the virtue of compassion
Love one another with a deep passion
Through the healing aloha spirit
The central core of thy being can hear it
Reverberate synchronized tides of peaceful mana
To unite mankind as one interconnected ohana
Student Diamond Mundy also won $500 for her art piece that colorfully captures diversity.
“Diversity means that despite everyone’s differences, we’re still able to come together and that’s why in my painting, I made everybody a different color, different features, because no matter what, we’re still able to be friends,” says Mundy.
A campus that embraces diversity
At the event, tables were set up by a variety of clubs and organizations showing the diversity of cultures and activities at UH Hilo. The LGBTQ+ Center, Women’s Center, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the Water Polo Club were among some of the campus organizations that gathered at the event in support of embracing diversity.
Students and faculty were encouraged to take pride in their diversity, whether it be diversity in culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, or even something as simple as hobbies or interests, as a way of learning from one another and creating a more unique experience at UH Hilo.
Through celebrating diversity and encouraging inclusion, acceptance, and becoming more culturally aware, UH Hilo creates a campus community in which people are constantly learning from each other, not just academically, but also about different perspectives and lifestyles. In becoming more aware and sensitive to differences, students become open to more opportunities and experiences.
“Diversity on campus is important, because colleges and universities are where we learn,” says Jennifer Stotter, emcee of the event and director of the UH Hilo Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action. “By bringing people together from all kinds of backgrounds, we have the greatest opportunity to learn from each other and be exposed to all kinds of new ways of thinking, new experiences, which will in turn enhance our learning and increase innovation.”
Having diversity on campus also enables UH Hilo to produce graduates from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who are entering fields where there is a lack of diversity, creating more representation for minorities.
“We’re hoping to enhance the participation and success of diverse students and have better representation in different fields of study and in the workplace,” says Ko‘omoa-Lange.
About the author of this story: Alyssa Mathews is a freshman at UH Hilo planning to major in business with a marketing concentration. She graduated from Waiakea High School and is a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholar.
About the photographer: Raiatea Arcuri is a professional photographer majoring in business at UH Hilo. He was awarded USA Young Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016 (read his blog post about the winning photograph).