By Erika Becerra, Reporter, and Megan Duncan, Reporter
After a long search, Berry College filled the empty position of Director of Student Diversity Initiatives this past November.
Students and faculty have welcomed Chon’tel Washington to the campus after her move. Washington, who is originally from New York, is excited to settle into her new home in the South.
“Everybody has been nice and welcoming, and wanting and looking forward to working with me,” Washington said.
As Director of Student Diversity Initiatives, Washington’s job description includes developing, supporting, and educating the student body on topics of cultural, sexual, and gender inclusivity.
With a new director at the head of one of Berry’s most demographically influential offices, Berry students can expect to see affecting change across campus.
As part of that change, Washington hopes to initiate training workshops that provide Berry College students with more opportunities for cross-cultural interactions. These training workshops will be designed to provide information and instruction, allowing students to gain and grow in skills they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to hone.
“Most jobs, you’ll have to work with people who are different from you, so it’s important to try to learn and cultivate those skills while in college.” Washington said.
In addition to the planned workshops, Washington has been involved with the creation of groups that intend to support underrepresented students.
These new student-led programs include L.E.A.D., (Leaders Embodying Advancement through Diversity) an organization that aims to support black male leaders and Unapologetic, Nubian, Independent, Thriving Young Women (U.N.I.T.Y.), which encourages women of color to be proud of their heritage.
Freshman Malik LeBlanc, one of the student organizers of L.E.A.D, says that Washington’s willingness to listen to people on campus is what has stood out to him the most.
“A lot of times you can see her communicating with students, with faculty, seeing what they would like to see on campus,” he said. “She’s very vocal with students, she wants to hear their opinions.”
Ultimately, Washington is looking to encourage students to communicate their unique ideas and expectations. She hopes that students will be inspired to show their creativity and allow themselves to feel comfortable on campus.
“My door is always open, so I definitely want to hear what people may want to see,” Washington said.