Keynote speaker Derek Greenfield, Ph.D., Ed.D., addressed more than 400 students, faculty and staff during St. Joseph’s College’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Week.
During two virtual events — one for the students and one for faculty and staff — titled “The Time Is Now: Building for Inclusive Excellence, Social Justice and Community at SJC,” Dr. Greenfield shared with the audience the importance in recognizing and celebrating diversity within society.
“You are not just the future, you are the present,” Dr. Greenfield told the students on Wednesday, Nov. 18. “You are the ones indeed who can do so much to influence not only your peers, but your parents and grandparents and family members. Right now, we need you to be an example of what inclusion and justice and love look like.”
Dr. Greenfield opened the student event and closed the faculty and staff event with the same important message: Everyone is capable of reaching higher and doing more.
As an exercise, Dr. Greenfield asked his audience to raise their arms in the air as high as they can. And then he asked them to reach higher.
“I asked you to reach as high as you could the first time,” he said. “But then I challenged you to reach higher, and I bet you did. You see, we can reach higher. And we’ve got to do more to reach higher and reach out to each other in a time such as this, in a world experiencing so many challenges, to build a space of true love and inclusion.”
Dr. Greenfield, who serves as the vice president for student engagement and campus life/chief diversity officer at Kentucky State University, encouraged his listeners to always be their full, authentic selves, and to share with others what it means to be them.
“Talk about what it means to be LGTBQA, or what it means to be Latina in a world that may not often make (you) feel valued,” he said. “What if (you) could share what it means to be a person with a disability, or someone who experienced abuse growing up. Maybe if (you) could talk and be (your) authentic self, (you) gain your power back.”