For the first time, the Black Student Association (BSA) and the Center for Professional Excellence (CPE) office had a panel discussion on Sept. 24 about diversity in the professional world and how to navigate finding your racial identity. The panel was led by the BSA in collaboration with the CPE through a Zoom panel discussion which included Harding alumni as speakers.
“Ideally, I’d love it if the CPE office and the BSA did events like this once a month and discuss professional development topics for students,” director of CPE Brian Harrington said.
Harrington said that the panel was open to all students, but was meant specifically for Black students to have a conversation and discuss and learn about diversity in the professional world. Harrington wanted students to have an opportunity to ask the questions some may not feel comfortable asking in front of other people.
“The biggest takeaway from this panel was to change your thinking of seeing the color of your skin as an obstacle, but rather as an advantage to stand out amongst others,” BSA President Raissa Ames said. “It’s important for future Black, or other people of color, professionals to know that they have the right to make space for themselves in a world that has been dominated by the majority for so long.”
Ames believes conversations like these will promote the needed change and diversity in the professional world and hopes that this panel helped students become more prepared for the experiences they could face after college.
“People need to realize that people of color, especially people that are Black, do have a lot of things that we struggle with on a daily basis,” panel speaker Aubrie Hernandez said. “Especially when we’re going to work and we’re having to live our lives and go to work and not talk about these things and keep working like nothing’s happening.”
Although there is still a lot of work to be done, Hernandez is hopeful that opportunities and conversations like this are a step in the right direction. She encourages the University, and beyond, to take action against any form of discrimination to work toward racial justice.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Hernandez said.