Celebrate Diversity Digest – April 2024

Featured Articles & Contributors

Journey to Empowerment: Pride Alliance Visits National Young Feminist Leadership Conference

Conferences are opportunities for like-minded people to gather, explore new ideas, share resources and collaborate on projects that advance their vision. Student organization Pride Alliance joined Van Nhi Ho of the Women’s Gender & Sexuality Center (WGSC) to do this and more in Wahsington, D.C., in March. 

About Van Nhi Ho M.A. '24
Van Nhi Ho is the coordinator for LGBTQ+ initiatives in the Women's Gender & Sexuality Center and a graduate student. She has recently become a member of the Campus Committee on Diversity & Inclusive Excellence.

Read More | Journey to Empowerment: Pride Alliance Visits National Young Feminist Leadership Conference

Social Justice in Higher Education Topic of Conference Panel

The second annual Inclusive Leadership Conference in April included a panel discussion with Dr. Donnetrice Allison, chair of the Africana Studies program, and Committee on Campus Diversity & Inclusive Excellence members Dr. Guia Calicdan-Apostle & Dr. Esther Lawrence

About Loukaia Taylor '22
Loukaia Taylor is a multicultural communication specialist in University Relations & Marketing, an alumna of the Communication Studies program and a member of the Campus Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

Read More | Social Justice in Higher Education Topic of Conference Panel

EOF Students Travel to Yale University’s Bouchet Conference

The 20th Annual Yale Bouchet Conference didn’t just provide four EOF students with an opportunity to meet peers from other colleges and universities — according to Valerie Hayes, it also gave them an opportunity to imagine themselves as researchers, scholars, and thought leaders.

About Valerie Hayes
Dr. Valerie Hayes is the chief officer for Diversity and Inclusion and serves as co-chair of the Campus Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Excellence.

Read More | EOF Students Travel to Yale University’s Bouchet Conference

New Initiative Aims to Improve NJ Newsroom Diversity

A new advisory board housed in The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University has big plans for the state of New Jersey. We talk to one of the inaugural members of the board, Stockon University’s very own Erin O’Hanlon on her expectations and hopes for the project.

About Loukaia Taylor '22
Loukaia Taylor is a multicultural communication specialist in University Relations & Marketing, an alumna of the Communication Studies program and a member of the Campus Committee on Diversity and Inclusive Excellence.

Read More | New Initiative Aims to Improve Diversity in NJ’s Newsrooms

Elevate & Celebrate: School of Business Celebrates Women’s History Month

The School of Business and students enrolled in a leadership course created an event where women leaders could network and celebrate each other’s accomplishments at Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus, concluding Women's History Month.

About Esther Lawrence
Dr. Esther Lawrence is the assistant dean for the School of Business, a frequent contributor to the Celebrate Diversity Digest and a longtime member of the Committee on Campus Diversity & Inclusive Excellence.

Read More | Elevate & Celebrate: School of Business Celebrates Women’s History Month

Digest Staples – What's in Every Issue 

Valerie's Library 

Cropped photo from "Truths" report
Courtesy of University of Southern California - Race and Equity Center. 

Twenty-four (24) states have passed or are in the process of passing anti-DEI legislation on the belief that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is discrimination and indoctrination and therefore must be eliminated. 

The anti-DEI movement in higher education is part of a larger focus on higher education, such as academic freedom and faculty governance.

The assault on DEI, in part, started with a misunderstanding of critical race theory.

In September 2020 during the COVID pandemic, we began to experience the first legislative efforts when there was misinformation about critical race being taught in K-12. A 2021 INSIGHT Into Diversity article described critical race theory as “a legal theory developed by Kimberle Crenshaw, a constitutional law professor at Columbia University School of Law and a leading scholar on critical race theory. Critical race theory was developed in the 1970s to help explain how systemic racism has shaped the U.S. legal system.”

Critical race theory is not taught in K-12, and never has been. Age-appropriate American history that includes Black history is taught in K-12. 

Dr. Damon Williams who is well-known among the chief diversity officer community defined the anti-DEI movement in this way: “A highly coordinated legislative effort to limit diversity, equity, and inclusion freedoms, definitions, programs, funding, strategies, and approaches that benefit women, LGBTQ, racial, ethnic, disability, and other diverse communities, and DEI champions by changing laws, policy, and language in public and by extension, private institutions.” 

He identified four (4) main policy areas: “Anti-strategic DEI leadership, anti-DEI curriculum & training, anti-LGBTQ community, and anti-reproductive rights.” 

He also identified the diverse groups and categories impacted by the anti-DEI legislative movement: "DEI generally, race & ethnicity, internation, transgender & gender identity, women reproductive, higher education, K-12, health care, government, and private companies.”  

Dr. Shaun Harper, founding executive director of the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center, released a new report, Truths About DEI on College Campuses: Evidence-Based Expert Responses to Politicized Misinformation, in which he and his colleagues delve into the background of the current anti-DEI movement and combat misinformation. 

Hi, My Name is... Andrea Sandoval

Andrea Sandoval posing for a photo with Juan Diego Chaparro and President Joe Bertolino.
Andrea Sandoval posing for a photo with Juan Diego Chaparro and President Joe Bertolino.

How did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I decided to join the CCDIE because I wanted to voice my experiences as a first-generation Latina student from a low-income household so that I could advocate for those who come from similar backgrounds. I also wanted to work alongside other members of the committee who come from diverse backgrounds and hear their perspectives on how to create a more inclusive and diverse community.

Andrea Sandoval

What do you see as your main contribution to the CCDIE’s work this year?

My main contribution to the CCDIE’s work this year was being able to bring other students’ perspectives and experiences, including my own, into the conversations that were discussed at meetings. Committee members are able to understand what current and prospective students need in order for a student to thrive and feel welcomed at Stockton.

What advice would you share with other members of the campus community who want to get involved in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice at Stockton?

My advice would be to keep an open mind, always be willing to learn, and understand that you may be wrong at some point. It is also important to understand that diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice are more than just race. They also include gender, sexuality, religion, disability, socioeconomic status and age. There will be uncomfortable conversations; however, you will be able to understand more about the different backgrounds that exist at Stockton.

To embrace diversity is to care enough to listen with an open mind and to speak up during difficult conversations.

The #StocktonVoices series gives students, faculty and staff a platform to both speak and listen to our own diverse voices. 

Since 2020, more than 40 members of the campus community have shared their perspective on race, culture, equality, diversity and inclusion.

One of the many things I look forward to for the fall is seeing all my friends, getting to see my girl Naheel again and just getting that Stockton air again. I am excited to start my classes because I want to be closer to my goals in life. This will be the beginning of more new memories at Stockton University.
Maria Lopez Bautista
Maria Lopez Bautista
For students thinking about joining the EOF program, I would say to join because, as I said before, they're like a family and when you're, like, a shy person or you're trying to meet new people like you, EOF is definitely the way to go.
Ja'Dir Greer-Turner
Ja'Dir Greer-Turner
Whether it's something small, such as giving advice, or something major, like teaching students how to be able to properly network, I want to take the privilege that Dr. E,  and Stockton Esports have given me and empower students who may not have been given the privilege or had the experience that I have, so that I may equip and empower them to advance in their communities and excel in their careers.
Rebecca Nagy Miller
Rebecca Nagy Miller
As the inaugural president (of the Honduran Student Association), I'm eager to demonstrate to students the opportunities available at Stockton, set an example for how to make one's voice heard and unite students, not only those of Honduran descent but from all backgrounds, to advocate for their cultural representation on campus and in our surrounding communities.
Carlos Barralaga
Carlos Barralaga
What being a first-generation student means to me is that I’m the first in my lineage to do something. I am the first to set an example for my family members. My younger siblings, cousins and even my future children will see me and say, “He was the first to go to college, and I want to be next.” 
Nasir Terry
Nasir Terry

You know, after graduating from Stockton, I look forward to finding ways to advocate for marginalized, underserved and misunderstood communities. Everyone has a story – some full of happiness but others full of pain – and I want to be in a position where I can help them through their journey of self-discovery like my mentors did for me.

Zikra Naz
Zikra Naz
I just feel like being able to work (with) the Dean of Students has been one of the best opportunities I have received at Stockton because it's honestly changed my college experience a lot – a lot more than I expected that it would... I've met so many people who have been impactful in my college experience simply by working at the offices that I've been able to work at.
Vera Tagtaa
Vera Tagtaa


Stockton’s School of Education continues its diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts by addressing the growing teacher shortage, specifically for teachers of color.

A Conversation with Erin Gruwell

Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 4-5 p.m.
Alton Auditorium
As a teacher in Long Beach, CA, she changed the lives of her high school students. Erin was portrayed by Academy Award-winning actor Hilary Swank in the 2007 movie Freedom Writers. Through the Freedom Writers Foundation, Erin currently teaches educators around the world how to implement her innovative lesson plans in their own classrooms. 

This event is co-sponsored by the School of Education, the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs,
the Stockton University Foundation, the Multicultural Center and the Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center.


The 2023 Future Teachers of Color Conference was created in direct response to several needs within the field of education. Faculty members Dr. Stacey Culleny and Dr. Meg White secured a Compass Fund award to host 9th and 10th-grade students at the 2023 conference. It is their work that contributed, in part, to Erin Gruwell’s interest in visiting Stockton University. 

April is set to be a jam-packed month full of different celebrations and recognitions on campus. Check out what’s in store for Stockton University this month.
(L-R): Asian Student Alliance's Phoenix Night Market; Bengali Student Association's Holi; and the Pilipino-American Student Association of Stockton's Barrio Fiesta, all held in April.
(L-R): Asian Student Alliance's Phoenix Night Market; Bengali Student Association's Holi; and the Pilipino-American Student Association of Stockton's Barrio Fiesta, all held last April.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Although the month is traditionally (and nationally) celebrated in May, the campus community celebrates AAPIHM in the month of April so that students can focus on finals and commencement in May. 

In celebration of AAPIHM, the following events will be hosted by student organizations and departments: 

  • Pilipino American Student Association at Stockton’s 10th Annual Barrio Fiesta – April 17
  • Indian Student Association’s Holi Celebration – April 18
  • Bengali Student Association’s Pohela Baishakh (Bengali New Year) – April 22
  • International Student Organization’s Cultural Night – April 28
  • Pakistani Student Association’s Brown Town South Asian Festival – May 17 

According to Bengali Student Association president Ziaul Hoque, the newest addition to AAPIHM activities, Pohela Baishakh, promises to be a night full of fun activities and celebrations, complete with traditional Bengali dancing and authentic cuisine from a local restaurant.

“Pohela Boisakh is the biggest festival of our nation; irrespective of people's religion and class, everyone comes together to celebrate the day in a manner that ensures joy and good luck for the whole year. If any of us had to pick one festival that represents Bangladesh as a country and a nation, that would be this one. That's why it is BSA's effort to bring a piece of that to Stockton,” Hoque said. 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The national theme for April 2024 is “Building Connected Communities.” The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides information and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence, shared that this year’s theme reminds us that the work and responsibility of preventing sexual abuse, assault and harassment in our communities lies with everybody. 

Stockton will be hosting the following programs for SAAM:

“Stockton University commemorates SAAM every April, but we take action throughout the year to show that sexual assault and gender-based violence affects every one of us and continues to be widespread in communities across the United States and beyond,” Teresa Barone, assistant director for the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Center, shared. 

Educational Opportunity Fund Month

The EOF program at Stockton works to ensure meaningful access to higher education for students from disadvantaged or underserved communities. According to Ana DeNise, interim director of EOF, the program provides financial assistance, academic guidance and programs such as the five-week Summer Academy, which enables recently graduated students to get acclimated to the campus before they officially become undergraduate students. 

Celebrate EOF Month with #StocktonVoices

This is evidenced through students like Maria Lopez-Bautista, who learned invaluable lessons and gained fruitful connections with peers before taking her first class on campus. 

“During the academy, I learned that I am a great writer once I put my mind to it,” Lopez Bautista said. “I also learned that I could get along really well with other people once I pass my shy phase around them: I am great at making people laugh and cringe at the same time. Lastly, I learned that I can be independent and responsible by waking up early, getting to class on time, and doing my homework.”  

The Summer Academy is only the beginning – students receive academic counseling, have access to EOF’s lounge and resource room and are provided opportunities for professional development, such as attending the annual Yale Bouchet Conference. 

“It's important to recognize our students and our scholars,” DeNise said. “The impact EOF has on our population is immeasurable, and it is lifelong: there are EOF alumni who are currently on this campus that will still speak to the importance of the EOF, so it's almost like a way of life.” 

National Volunteer Month

For National Volunteer Month, follow Stockton Alumni on social media as they highlight some of our most active alumni volunteers. Sara Faurot, director of Alumni Relations, shared that alumni volunteers play a vital role in advancing Stockton’s vision. 

“Volunteering is about giving back and ensuring our current students are afforded the same chances for growth, learning and success that alumni experienced,” Faurot said. “It's a meaningful way to stay connected, build a sense of community and foster relationships. By giving students the same opportunities alumni had, they contribute to the legacy of Stockton, strengthening the bonds that unite past, present and future Ospreys."

Before finding a local fiesta for Cinco De Mayo, learn about the day’s history and why it is still celebrated in Puebla, Mexico, through the magic of theatre at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26 at Stockton University’s Performing Arts Center. 

Dancers from Calpulli Mexican Dance Company
In addition to celebrating Mexican culture via dance, the troupe tours internationally, designs arts-in-education programming and leads free community outreach activities. 

"Puebla: The Story of Cinco de Mayo" was conceived by artistic director & co-founder Alberto Lopez Herrera who sought to: honor the culture of his birthplace in Puebla, Mexico, take advantage of the American celebration of Cinco de Mayo and the many misconceptions about what it represents, and create a retelling of the history through their own eyes as Mexicans, Poblanos and immigrants. 

Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

This engagement of the Capulli Mexican Dance Company is made possible through the Mid Atlantic Tours program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Founded in 2003, Calpulli Mexican Dance Company celebrates and explores Mexican and Mexican-American culture via dance including live music. Based in New York City, Calpulli produces professional performances via its international touring company, designs arts-in-education programming, and leads free community outreach activities. 

Ticket Information 

Tickets are $40 for the general public; $38 for senior citizens; $35 for Stockton University alumni; $30 for Stockton staff and faculty; $18 for children (12 and under); and $10 for Stockton students. Special pricing for groups of 10 or more people is also available.

Tickets also are available at the Stockton Performing Arts Center box office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 90 minutes before showtime. Call 609-652-9000. 

Featured Gallery

Hot Off the Press Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in the News 

Africana Studies at Stockton Turns 40

April 4, 2024

Students in the Africana Studies program had the opportunity to learn more about life after the program from faculty and alumni through a February panel discussion titled "What Can You Do with an Africana Studies Degree?"
Students in the Africana Studies program had the opportunity to learn more about life after the program from faculty and alumni through a February panel discussion titled "What Can You Do with an Africana Studies Degree?" Photo by Lizzie Nealis.

Galloway, N.J. – The rich tradition of Africana Studies at Stockton University encompasses four decades of educational opportunity for students to study and analyze the various disciplines from an African/African-American perspective.  

The program itself went through many iterations, starting as a collection of General Studies courses offered by various faculty members. The courses were all centered on the Black experience and included topics such as music, entertainment and the law.  

It was the vision and dedication of the original group of faculty members, including Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies Pat Reid-Merritt, that led to the establishment of the Africana Studies program. In the spring of 1983, they proposed that the collection of courses be formalized into a new topic concentration originally called “Afro-American Studies,” offering interested students the opportunity to earn a certificate.

“There was a general awareness that people were developing concentrations around certain areas (of study), and we figured, yes, we should do it too,” Reid-Merritt shared. “Adele Beverly (professor emeritus of Nursing) worked on developing a proposal that we could take to the Faculty Senate. There were about nine of us, and we said that we needed this concentration. Soon, it was approved.”

The rest is history — Africana Studies became a recognized minor and, in 2019, a degree-granting major, offering students the opportunity to delve deeper into their studies in five different areas: arts and Entertainment, Global Perspectives, History/Humanities, Literature, and Social and Political Perspectives. Students in both the major and minor are also eligible for membership in the National Council of Black Studies’ national honor society, Ankh Maat Wedjau, due to the program’s affiliation with the NCBS.  

About Celebrate Diversity

The Committee on Campus Diversity and Inclusive Excellence (CCDIE) welcomes new and returning readers to the latest issue of Celebrate Diversity Digest. We invite you to learn more about issues of campus diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice covered in this newsletter. 

The CCDIE includes faculty, staff, students and alumni who contribute to the University’s efforts to support and further these four areas on our campus, as well as the University’s mission to develop engaged and effective citizens with the capacity to adapt to change in a multicultural, interdependent world. 

About the Communications Subcommittee

This subcommittee explores best practices of marketing and raising awareness of Stockton’s diversity and inclusion programs and efforts and then implements those practices, where appropriate, in collaboration with University Relations and Marketing. 

Communications Subcommittee Members 

  • Valerie HayesChief Officer for Diversity & Inclusion and convener for all subcommittees 
  • Stacey Clapp, Director of Strategic Communications, University Relations & Marketing 
  • Loukaia Taylor '22, Multicultural Communications Specialist, University Relations & Marketing 
  • Kameika Murphy, Associate Professor of Atlantic History, School of Arts & Humanities
  • Esther Lawrence, Assistant Dean of Business, School of Business
  • Seth Richards, Associate Director for the Office of Student Conduct, Student Affairs
  • Jestina Drysdale, Assistant Director for the Office of Student Conduct, Student Affairs
  • Yesenia Pacheco '22/M.A. '23, Coordinator of Student Transition, Access and Retention, Student Affairs
  • Van Nhi Ho M.A. '24 Coordinator of LGBTQ+ Initiatives, Women's Gender & Sexuality Center
  • Ashley Dalisay '23, Student, Accelerated Bachelor's of Nursing
  • Amira Walker '23, Student, Business Dual Degree