Mini-grants aid diverse recruitment, women of color speaker series

The latest DEI mini-grants awarded by WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) will help recruit a more diverse student body and bring women speakers of color to inspire student success.

The two $2,500 awards were presented for 2024 to WSU’s Graduate Women of Color Alliance and the Department of Human Development by the CAHNRS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DEI) Committee. The grants are funded by the DEI office in CAHNRS.

Human Development table- Fall Fest
Students learn about opportunities in the Department of Human Development during Fall Fest 2023.

Diverse student recruitment and outreach

Scientists and students in WSU’s Department of Human Development study how children, adults, and families change and face challenges, and help support healthy communities.The department is using its mini-grant to boost recruitment of a diverse student body.

Working with a trio of Human Development students, faculty members Anna Whitehall and Rebecca Dueben and Academic Coordinator Rich Giles will design and share a survey this spring with all current students gathering information about how they learned about the department.

“A diverse study body helps provide a variety of experiences and perspectives that students will need as they graduate and go on to professional roles,” said Whitehall, scholarly associate professor and assistant director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership located within the department. “Diversity benefits all WSU students by providing a rich environment that reflects and generates respect for the diversity of the state of Washington and beyond.”

Survey results will drive a social media campaign launching this summer aimed at recruiting students into Human Development at WSU. The grant will also support student ambassadors in their work of promoting and representing Human Development and CAHNRS as supportive communities at WSU.

Inspiring women students of color

The Graduate Women of Color Alliance, a student-supporting organization established in 2023, will use its mini-grant to fund a speaker series aimed at inspiring and helping women of color through their academic trajectories.

Women of color face underrepresentation and lack of visibility in academia. Planned annually, the grant-funded talks will aid the organization’s mission to provide community and support.

“So often, we can feel lost,” said Oieswarya Bhowmik, an alliance officer and WSU doctoral student. “We hope our series brings awareness of the challenges that women of color go through, and also celebrates our triumphs.”

The first talk, featuring Dr. Arifa Raza, assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, is a discussion of common mental health challenges that women of color face in graduate school, as well as resources and ideas to help women succeed. Participants will be able to meet speakers and engage with other attendees. That event is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 19, at WSU’s Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center.

“We want to showcase speakers who have gone through the same things we have and shown you can overcome them,” said Kassandra Castillo, GWOCA vice president.

Speaker events aren’t just for graduate students. The alliance welcomes faculty, staff, and students, including undergraduates considering their next steps.

“Undergraduate women may be thinking about their future, about graduate school or law school,” Castillo said. “This is an opportunity to hear from someone who has gone through both experiences.” Learn more about the Graduate Women of Color Alliance at the GWOCA website. Learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusiveness efforts in CAHNRS at