Students and faculty focus on diversity

Bobby Shipman

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Kirat Baath, assistant professor of biology, said every growing community shapes the people within it.  She received her Master’s degree in India before traveling to the United States to earn her doctorate.

“I have seen USI’s diversity significantly increase since I began teaching 13 years ago,” she said.

Her inspiration for heading overseas was a desire to see the world, she said. “It’s all part of growing up,” Baath said, ”I think we all grow biologically but that cultural is the other part of growing up-when we meet people with other cultures or practices.”

She grew up in the Northwestern part of India where the majority of the small population either farmed or joined the service.

“Education was a priority in my home,” she said. “The best way you can travel, sometimes, is by education.”

The university is doing what it can to make itself more marketable to international and diverse students.

“The numbers of international students have grown dramatically over the last few years,” Provost Ronald Rochon said.

This year there are 21 new students from Brazil, he said.

In a new grant opportunity, the provost is approving funding to allow students to come up with different initiatives that will focus on campus wide diversity and inclusion.

“Through my office I send faculty and staff to different parts of the world to do fairs to teach folks about USI,” Rochon said. “To inform them about our majors, graduation rates, faculty, scholarships and more.”

They will be small grants that students can apply for to generate new ideas to address diversity, he said.

Michael Ndemanu, associate professor of education, said worldview depends on how future issues are interpreted. Ndemanu started teaching diversity and multicultural/multilingual issues in education in June 2012, but he also taught English and French in his hometown of Cameroon for eight years.

“At first, before coming here for a campus interview, I thought there was no diversity at all,” he said.

USI is taking steps to increase diversity, he said.

Some students have noticed more diversity on campus.

“I have noticed an increase in the Asian community since I started at USI,”  said David Tran, senior chemistry major.

Tran grew up in California, but his parents emigrated from Vietnam in search of a better life.

“Diversity, no diversity we are all just people,” Tran said.