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Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As someone who grew up in fortunate circumstances but was surrounded by others facing extraordinary challenges, I was always acutely aware of the burden those challenges create and the many forms the challenges can take. Now, after years of working with individuals from underprivileged backgrounds, I have come to recognize the sheer quantity and variety of barriers that people face in their daily lives, and I realize how unnecessary so many of those barriers are. My life trajectory is not a story of linear success, and I enjoy sharing this story with students because it advocates for those whose circumstances are not ideal. Sharing my story with them encourages them to share their stories with me, which I find incredibly valuable in discovering how to minimize obstacles and create a more accommodating environment.

I value curiosity and authentic sincerity because I believe these are how we come to understand other people. Being curious facilitates a better understanding of differing perspectives, experiences, values, and identities. Being authentic promotes feelings of comfort, safety, and acceptance. This is the driving principle in how I approach my work. I care about facilitating others’ personal growth; so I have a responsibility to learn about what is impeding that growth. Then, I use what I learn to remove barriers, encourage authenticity, cultivate acceptance, and teach tolerance.

I approach my teaching with an attitude of mentorship. I encourage students to embrace their identity and preserve personal values, as I model how to handle conversations on tough DEI topics. I acknowledge the discomfort that comes with some conversations, but I believe it is important to engage in and learn from those conversations despite the discomfort. My students know that this is an important cause to me, and many of them have taken advantage of the opportunity to sit with me during my office hours to help me understand the real, lived experience of communities that I am not directly a part of. I have been successful in cultivating welcoming environments by discussing my own challenges, admitting my limitations in understanding, and encouraging students to talk with me about how I can best represent their communities in our lessons. 

My classroom policies are designed with systemic challenges in mind. As a non￾traditional, adult student with a full-time job, I met many structural barriers during my undergraduate studies. This experience helped me understand how many policies hinder, rather than facilitate, the education that our students are working to attain. I work to remove invisible barriers for all students by building flexibility in the course design. Students have options for how they would like to earn points; information and resources are provided in multiple formats; exams are provided both online and in-person to best meet the needs of as many students as possible; and offer the option for an oral exam to any student upon request. By not limiting these options to those who have disability accommodations, I am recognizing that struggles can exist outside of a documented disability, that many disabilities can take years to diagnose, and that many highly qualified individuals can excel with a slightly different approach. Additionally, flexibility in course design minimizes the potential for bias. All policies apply to all students all of the time, but those policies are designed with a safety net in mind. The most important result of built-in flexibility is that I am removing the guilt that students often feel when they have unique needs, whether it is due to a temporary setback or a lifetime of marginalization.

My research interests center around interactive technology and digital media. I was drawn to this area of study after noticing that BIPOC individuals were unfairly targeted for gambling in both real-world and online environments. As I continued along this line of work, I realized that many of the issues I care about the most, such as economic justice and inclusivity in online environments, can be addressed through improved human-computer interaction (HCI) and user experience (UX) design. I began collaborating with the Department of Human and Consumer Sciences to develop a better understanding of the problems on hand, generate research questions, and supplement my knowledge to build a better in-class curriculum. Studying and teaching about algorithm ethics, AI trends, and computer-mediated communication (CMC) is a valuable path for addressing and preventing structural bias across numerous populations, from vulnerable adolescents to marginalized identities; however, it will be especially beneficial to those who have been historically underrepresented and unfairly targeted.

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