As Texas Woman’s University continues to break diversity records, the TWU Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach office pursues ways to support and celebrate students from different backgrounds.
The TWU DIO office has been present at TWU for about 30 years and is a part of TWU’s division of student life. The DIO office seeks to provide opportunities for students to see themselves represented in areas and spaces they are not always highlighted in. They offer different resources to enrolled TWU students but also reach out to prospective students.
“We know it is very difficult to not only go to college for different communities but to get them through graduation,” Becky Rodriguez, Executive Director of DIO, said. “That is also very important to also be able to do that. You see a lot of offices like the multicultural center, the diversity and inclusion, but our office is the Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach office. The outreach part is that we want to be able to reach out to our students as well and be able to provide them with those resources that they may not know about.”
Rodriguez adds that the DIO office offers knowledge that is not always highlighted. She touches on the different help and council they offer to DACA recipient students and undocumented students.
The DIO office also works closely with high school students so they understand the nuances of applying to college. TWU’s Go Program and G-Force organization is the most pronounced way that the DIO office works with high school students. The Go Program is a part of the College for All Texans campaign and includes services regarding SAT/ACT registration , financial aid and scholarship services as well as their mentorship program, G-Force.
“G-Force we have about 30 to 35 mentors, and what we do is work here on campus and off-campus,” associate director of the DIO office, Simone Daniels, said. “We serve 17 different high schools throughout the DFW area from Dallas to Carrollton to Fort Worth to here in Denton, all over. We serve those students sometimes weekly, biweekly to make sure that students are applying to college or making a plan post-secondary, whether that is getting them information about the military or technology schools. Whatever it is, we just want to make sure they have a plan after they graduate.”
G-Force also has a strong presence around TWU’s campus with various scholarship resources. Daniels describes G-Force and the DIO office as another avenue to help with financial aid, aside from the financial aid office.
The DIO office also offers other resources, such as their first year Latina leadership scholarship, ADELANTE. Trainings such as DREAM Zone and Faith Zone are also provided through the DIO office to educate students on different perspectives and experiences.
Along with supporting students and creating access, the DIO office values celebrating students’ background and accomplishments. Every semester, the DIO office hosts multicultural graduation.
Multicultural graduation serves students of all different backgrounds on all three TWU campuses. The event serves to highlight graduating students and their accomplishments with emphasis on the different experiences they faced due to their identity. Students and their families are invited to a celebration where they are awarded different stoles corresponding with their identity.
“It really creates an opportunity to build a sense of belonging but a sense of accomplishment for these communities, because they get recognized for who they are,” Rodriguez said. “For all the adversity they’ve had to go through to get to the end of their journey, and we get to celebrate that.”
Multicultural graduation takes place twice a year. The event celebrates students of African descent and Black identities through the People of Nia Celebration and celebrates Hispanic and Latinx students through the La Raza celebration. The Multicultural Celebration celebrates Indigenous students, Asian American students and multiracial identifying students, and the Lavender Celebration serves LGBTQIA identifying students.
The TWU DIO office is looking forward to their upcoming events in the spring semester, such as Lunar New Year and Black History month. For more information, students can visit the DIO website.
Karyme Flores can be reached via email at email@example.com.