CLEVELAND, Miss. — The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Minor, formerly the Ethnic Studies Minor, is designed to show students that issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion affect all fields. Jalexia Procter of Leland is graduating from Delta State University with a B.S. in Social Work and the first DEI minor awarded by the university.
Procter said, “I heard about the DEI minor through my late professor, Mrs. Taylor Skelton. I had previously had a different minor but did not meet the requirements to graduate with that minor. So, we looked over other minors, and this one caught my eye. I decided to complete this minor because I believed it would provide me with more practice and experience advocating for minority groups or people who cannot advocate for themselves.”
The DEI minor was approved for the 2022-2023 catalog. There had been a previous Ethnic Studies Minor from as far back as 1997. Only three students ever enrolled in it, and none graduated with the minor. As originally designed, Delta State’s Ethnic Studies minor was limited in scope.
The inclusion of diverse voices in discussions of equity now transcends traditional ethnic and racial categorization. The revised DEI minor represents a wider number of disciplines spread over all four of the constituent colleges and schools of Delta State University, rather than focusing only on classes offered in the College of Arts & Sciences. This makes the DEI minor available to almost all Delta State students, from nursing students to business students, rather than just traditional liberal arts majors.
The DEI Minor Committee which revised the curriculum for the new minor was comprised of Dr. Melanie Anderson, Dr. Lauren Coker-Durso, Professor Maia Elgin-Wegmann, Laura Kate Fortner, Michelle Johansen, Dr. Michaela Merryday, Professor Don Allan Mitchell, and Dr. Valarie Morgan.
Dr. Charles Westmoreland, Chair of the Social Sciences and History Department and advisor for the DEI minor, said, “We’re extremely proud of Jalexia for being the first Delta State student to complete the DEI minor. As the private and public sectors become more diverse and call upon employees to engage with more people of diverse backgrounds and experiences, the DEI minor is valuable to all students, no matter the major.”
Jana Donohoe, Chair of the Department of Social Work, said, “It’s exciting to have a BSW student completing the first interdisciplinary DEI minor. Since social workers serve diverse client systems of all sizes, the DEI minor really helps strengthen their skills so that they can provide compassionate and competent care in the community.”
Proctor feels that more students should consider completing the DEI minor. “Today’s world is much more diverse than it has been in the past,” she said. “I believe that completing this minor can help prepare students to work in our extremely diverse society.”
For more information about the DEI minor, speak to your academic advisor or email Michelle Johansen, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.