Committee Member Q&A

Andrea Sandoval

Andrea Sandoval 

Environmental Science, minoring in Political Science, 2025

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.

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.

You have many roles on campus – can you describe these roles and why students need to get involved? 

One of my biggest roles on campus is being the president of Stockton’s Student Senate. The Student Senate serves as the governing body and the voice of the student population: the organization is the bridge between students and administrators. The Senate also allocates funds to the various clubs and organizations on campus and promotes school spirit.

Some of my other roles on campus include treasurer for Los Latinos Unidos, the biggest Latino organization on campus, and for Stockton University’s Environmental Club, which advocates for the environment while also having fun.

I work at the Office of Community Engagement and Service Learning as a member of the Engagement Leadership Team. The office's mission is to develop relationships with community partners so that students may increase their engagement within the local community. Another part of the mission is helping students understand social justice issues and participate in civic engagement so that they may learn and increase their participation in social change.

Additionally, I am a resident assistant (RA) in Kesselman Hall, where many of my residents are first-year and/or EOF students. As an RA, I can help students transition to college while creating and promoting programs that will help them succeed. Not only that, but I am a figure who they can turn to regarding any concerns or questions they may have as residential students at Stockton University.

I believe that it is important for students to get involved because it allows them to find their sense of belonging and community here. You are able to create meaningful relationships with other students, staff and faculty while also growing as an individual, personally and professionally. It also allows you to create change on campus, such as creating a space for students who may need it or have similar interests/experiences as you. Being involved is definitely part of the Stockton University experience.

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.

What do you hope that the CCDIE will explore over the next couple of years?

I hope that the CCDIE will explore more about intersectionality since it is an important topic to discuss, especially in our current society. I also hope that the CCDIE will speak more with the student population about what kind of resources they need or other resources they would like to see in the future. While being a student representative allows me to share the voices of the student population, I cannot always best represent every group and their perspectives.

Zori Kalibatseva

Zornitsa (Zori) Kalibatseva

Associate Professor of Psychology 

What is your position at Stockton, and how did you become interested in the CCDIE?

I am an associate professor of psychology at Stockton. Some of the classes I teach include "Cross-Cultural Psychology," "Psychology of Race" and "Racism and Culture and Mental Health." My research focuses on racial and ethnic disparities in mental health and providing culturally sensitive psychotherapy. In 2016, Dr. Sonia Gonsalves nominated me to join the campus climate subcommittee because of my background in assessment and my commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I became faculty co-chair of the CCDIE in the fall of 2023. 

What do you see as your main contribution(s) to the CCDIE’s work over the years?

My main contributions to the CCDIE have been related to the campus climate survey. In 2016-2017, I worked alongside Dr. Donnetrice Allison and Dr. Brian Tyrrell to develop the survey, collect and analyze the data, and prepare the report. Later, I worked with my colleagues on the subcommittee to edit the existing survey and prepare it for the 2023 launch. I was also involved in exploring an employee affinity group for international faculty/staff.

What do you hope that the CCDIE will explore over the next few years?

I hope the CCDIE will continue to identify ways (e.g., events, trainings, Celebrate Diversity) in which make our campus and community an inclusive place where we can engage in a dialogue and develop understanding and compassion. In particular, I hope we can have everyone, from students to faculty and from staff to administrators, develop self-awareness, engage in meaningful conversations about race and racism, and take action to address racial disparities through social justice and education.  

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

Diversity, equity and inclusion are an integral part of the work we do in higher education; it is not an add-on. We need all hands on deck to work toward social justice for all. It can also be challenging and frustrating when you meet resistance or people deny your humanity. Talking to people who have been doing this work and finding support is paramount to keep doing the work.    

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