diversity week

Two members of the Chinese Club educate others about traditional Chinese dress during Diversity Week.

In a world so often divided by differences, WVU’s student diversity ambassadors are leading the charge to ensure everyone on campus feels like a Mountaineer.

Student diversity ambassadors are a living, breathing extension of WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a body of the University that focuses on creating events and functions to reach out and involve students of all ideals and beliefs. One of the division’s largest contributions to the University is Diversity Week, a yearly celebration of culture and individual expression.

In addition to planning and running this massive mixing pot of ideas and experiences, the student body ambassadors also work to cooperate with other departments and institutions at WVU to plan events around the year.

Upcoming is the visit of award-winning author Crystal Wilkinson on Tuesday, where she will read her novel “The Birds of Opulence.” Ambassadors from the division cooperated with WVU’s English department to see this event come to realization.

“The diversity student ambassadors represent our mission,” said Aisury Vasquez, diversity outreach coordinator of the division. “That mission is to create a diverse and safe student body, one that we’re all happy and excited to be a part of.”

Vasquez, having previously received her Masters of Science at WVU, joined the division as its outreach coordinator shortly after returning from Peace Corps service in Paraguay in 2018.

“I wanted to make sure that I worked in inclusive initiatives that promote diversity,” she said. “When I saw the position, I realized I could do that and work at an institution I was passionate about. It was a win-win.”

Vasquez urges students to apply to become an ambassador. Though an applicant can be from any background, there are some requirements to fill the position. A student must be currently enrolled and have completed one semester of college, while maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.5.

The biggest requirement, though, is being passionate and driven to help your fellow students.

“We want students who are engaged and ready to commit to the role,” Vasquez said. “People might get put off by the word diversity — it’s something complicated and scary — but that’s completely fine. All we need is for you to be excited and ready to learn.”

The role of the student diversity ambassador in day-to-day life on campus is to be a unifying link for everyone around them, regardless of where they’ve come from or what they might believe in. Further, the division hopes their ambassadors will help spark conversations about complicated topics such as privilege and power, so that all students can achieve a better understanding about them.

The importance of these trusted individuals, and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a whole was best summarized by Vasquez.

“We’re trying to create a safe space for students, but to do that we need students to be involved,” she said. “We need to hear their voices and hear what they need, so that we can give it to them. That’s what the student ambassadors are — they’re a voice for their peers.”

For more information or to apply to be a student ambassador, visit division.wvu.edu.