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Austin Wehner is a transfer student majoring in Business Management and a vital member of the Sacramento State men’s soccer team. Austin desires to go pro and is San Jose Earthquakes combine hopeful. His soccer hero is Portuguese professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.
In his first year on the team, Austin has made quite a mark on the pitch with his plays and noteworthy leadership. We spotlight Austin for his courageous will to stand up against bias and discrimination on behalf of his teammates.
As one of the captains of the men’s soccer team, Austin believes that it is his duty to speak up against racist and discriminatory behavior. At a game against another CSU team, an opposing player called a member of the Sac State team a derogatory slur. He was able to contain his upset teammates and step up to handle the situation. He reported the remark to the official who stated that he could not do anything since he didn’t hear it. However, the captain from the opposing CSU team also stepped up and corroborated the account.
Austin’s calm, decisive leadership in the moment was commended by many in the moment. Motivated by Austin’s willingness to stand up for this teammates, the other team’s captain also reported his teammate’s use of a slur to his coach. The offending student was removed from the field and suspended for the rest of the season.
When asked about what motivated him to take a stand for his teammates, Austin explained that he didn’t think twice about confronting the situation and doing the right thing. He explained that his team is full of people from different backgrounds, and they all deserve respect. He strives to be the best person and player that he can be. He shared, “I was raised to have good morals and my parents told me to stand up for what’s right.” He recalls being told daily by his father to “be a leader.”
Austin shares that he believes the AICAP is a progressive and necessary approach to address many of the issues that we face on campus and in the larger society today. He thinks that the goals are a huge step in the right direction and will help our campus to to grow and develop exponentially.
When asked about what he’d say to encourage others to confront racism and carry out the work of the AICP, he stated, “Don’t worry about the repercussions, or how others will think or react.” He believes that speaking up rather than letting discrimination slide allows one to live with themselves knowing you did the right thing.
Courage and conviction to counter biased behavior is the makings of a true Hornet. Austin is an outstanding student-athlete leader and we are proud to shine the light on our own soccer hero.
Dr. Elizabeth Morgan
Dr. Elizabeth Morgan is a tenured-track faculty member in the College of Education’s Ed.D. Educational Leadership program and has been working at Sac State for two years. She’s originally from the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento. She started her education career teaching AP Psychology in New Orleans Louisiana after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Xavier University. We spotlight Dr. Morgan for her commitment to ensuring that students have access to quality education on our campus and as an anchor in our community.
Dr. Morgan believes that those with intersectional and marginalized identities face many systemic barriers. She is committed to preparing the next generation of scholar advocates and activists who can use their agency of behalf of people with marginalized, intersectional identities that don’t fit into the dominate norms. She states that, “Advocacy is a key part of affecting change,” and that everyone has a role in supporting needed change. She aspires to be a transformative leader, teach, and mother that reaches back to make a difference who makes sure that all voices are heard in educational decision-making.
In 2015, Dr. Morgan started the Sankofa (which means “go back and fetch it” in the Twi language of Ghana) project that supports Black families that have children with developmental disabilities. Carving out this space was critical not just for the community, but for herself as a parent of a child on the autism spectrum.
Dr. Morgan is a part of the antiracism leadership committee in the Ed.D. program and shares that both the work of the committee and the goals of the AICP are aligned with her own philosophy that all that we do should take into consideration the multiple experiences of our students and seeing them as strengths rather than deficits. Her passion for education is evident in her dedication to “making sure that every student gets what they need,” and her students see her as the epitome of inclusive and equitable educational practices.
When asked how she would encourage others to engage in antiracism and inclusion work by remembering that, “Inclusion is a mindset, it’s not just a practice or a check box.” She encourages people to enter every interaction with the mindset that their goal is that all people have access as participating and contributing partners in learning experiences. She believes this work is something that simply has to be done.
Dr. Morgan explains, “My positionality sets me up to do this work and why would I not? I come from generations of people who have been doing this work and I take the torch with pride. Like John Lewis, this is the good trouble that we have to get into in order to be able to affect the change and have all that is truly inclusive, just, and equitable.”
With over 13 years of nonprofit and higher education fundraising experience, we spotlight Lora Hollingsworth for her effort to inspire change in the work of University Advancement. Lora is the Director of Planned Giving and works with donors to leave legacy gifts or donates assets to the University.
In her role, she has encouraged her colleagues to consider how to approach the work of advancement using a diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice (DEIBJ) lens. This meant shifting from a traditional approach to cultivate donors to one that is rooted in social justice and community-centered.
The new approach educates donors and is grounded in equity-centered values and tied to how their gifts will be used to empower students to achieve success. Working with her dynamic team, Lora now meets regularly to keep the conversation going about how they are doing the work of advancement upholds the ideals of DEIBJ.
When asked about the motivation behind her efforts, Lora talks candidly about how much of her Mid-west upbringing being rooted in bias. She shares that she has worked hard to learn, unlearn and relearn new ways of thinking and being with people who were different from her.
Lora shared that her work feels more meaningful to know that she and her colleagues are taking steps to change the campus discourse in philanthropy. In addition to having thoughtful discussion about change, the Planned Giving team has also has taken up reading relevant books, such as “From Generosity to Justice: A New Gospel of Wealth by Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation,” and having book club style discussions.
When asked about what she would say to campus community who may be thinking about getting involved in DEIBJ in their own areas, Lora explains “It’s hard and I feel it. I get it. There’s burnout, but it’s really worth it.”
She shares that the work is happening not just in her area, but it exists in many places on campus and that getting involved in carrying out the work of the Antiracism and Inclusive Campus Plan is worth the time and energy.
Teamwork and leadership like that of Lora, and the entire Advancement team, is the type of enterprising, effort that makes Sac State an innovative campus that is moving forward toward our goals of justice, belonging and inclusivity.
Born and raised in Stockton, Erin Lund is a Chico State grad who has always had a passion for working with underserved populations. We shine a light on Erin for her work as the Rapid Rehousing Coordinator for the Crisis Assistance & Resource Education Support (CARES) office. Erin worked with students that find themselves experiencing homelessness or who are housing insecure. She was the single point of contact for students who require temporary and long-term assistance with safe, stable housing.
Students who came to her often have marginalized intersectional identities- such as trans and queer youth, former foster youth, mental health issues, and those escaping domestic violence. Regardless of their situational circumstances, Erin was there to provide safe support in an environment where their privacy is protected.
She greeted them with kindness, welcome bags, a host of resources, and a warm heart– the most important resource for many. Working with faculty, staff, and community organizations, Erin pulled all the pieces together to eliminate the barriers that often exist for students who are in need of housing security.
Erin’s compassionate dedication to support and provide as sense of dignity for the students at Sac State is rooted in her belief that, "housing is a human right."
Erin expressed that students who are overwhelmed with barriers to housing often find themselves on the verge of giving up on their education. She explained that the work of CARES is vital because once students have their basic needs met, focusing on being a successful student is more manageable.
Erin encouraged other members of the Hornet community who are interested in starting or expanding their diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice (DEIBJ) lens to come from a place of humility and recognize the same humanity and value that we see in ourselves in others.
“Once we realize that our lives have no more or less value, than the person walking next to us on campus, we will feel compelled to do this work,” stated Erin.
Erin’s compassionate dedication to support and provide a sense of dignity for the students at Sac State who face homelessness and housing insecurity, makes her a true change agent who fosters greater accessibility, feelings of belonging, and visibility for our students.
College of Arts & Letters Leadership Team
We spotlight the leadership team in the College of Art & Letters: Dr. Sheree Meyer, Dean; Dr. Melinda Wilson Ramey, Associate Dean; and Dr. Christina Bellon, Associate Dean for their intentional steps to lead using a DEIBJ lens.
Together with their departmental teams, they have consistently made meaningful effort to ensure that the ideals expressed of the Antiracism & Inclusive Campus Plan (AICP) are implemented in practices from hiring, student support, to on-boarding and curriculum design.
As an innovative team, the Arts & Letters leadership team is recognized and congratulated not only for the intentional thought given to the creation of spaces that reflect the goals of the AICP into their practices, but for arduously taking action to embed equitable and inclusive practices into the way the College of Arts & Letters operates.
Dr. Meyer is a first-generation, Jewish-American college student who grew up in Upstate New York who found a passion for teaching while doing her graduate studies. She has been invested in equitable student success since she came to Sac State in 1991.
She quickly realized that to be equitable in the classroom and support student success meant there was no one-size fits all approach. She also recognized that student success is highly dependent upon staff success. She has a made a commitment to support faculty and staff in being successful through her commitment to curriculum redesign and evaluating faculty and staff performance using a DEIBJ lens.
Dr. Wilson Ramey is a passionate African-American leader who was “Made at Sac State.” She believes in the values of the campus and is committed to speaking up for those who are not given opportunity to have their voices heard. In her final tenure as interim Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, she initiated the Focus time Circles to support the campus in having an avenue to provide a broader perspective on the AICP.
She is a fierce advocate for students, and it shows in her work, training, and support for students who serve as Arts & Letters ambassadors representing Sac State at a variety of events. Dr. Wilson Ramey works with the Faculty Fellows program to support faculty in providing holistic advising to students that attends to their human and academic needs.
Dr. Christina Bellon was raised in Canada during a time when the nation was beginning its efforts towards multiculturism and the ideals of respect and celebrate of cultural diversity across the country. It’s this part of her upbringing that led her to see the value of the preservation and celebration of different cultures.
She was drawn to Sac State because of the diversity in both the student body and surrounding community. Like her peers on the Arts and Letters leadership team, Dr. Bellon looks to close equity gaps in curriculum design, hiring, and overall practices of the college. She has done extensive work with department chairs to inspire them to courageously make space for the development and incorporation DEIBJ practices in their departments
When asked what they would say to encourage others in the Hornet community to engage in DEIBJ work or expand their current understanding and practices, the Arts and Letters leadership team collectively shared the sentiment that the work has always been going on but needed to be highlighted and further elevated.
For those looking to take steps towards a personal journey to be antiracist and inclusive, the team encourages campus members to start with asking questions, of oneself, finding like-minded people who are also doing the work of transformation, and be intentional in your actions to make the campus a place where all belong.