LaWana Boone of Gloucester County, NJ chose Rowan’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate of Graduate Study for its rigorous curriculum, classes both online and close to home, and opportunities to get involved on campus. This fall, she earned her graduate certificate — the first to do so — and plans to leverage her knowledge to help organizations further their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Read on for more of LaWana’s story.
“Being first, to me, is an honor. I’m very elated that I was able to be the first person to graduate from the program. I think it sets a tone for other students to become involved in a program, especially students of color,” says Rowan Global student LaWana Boone on earning her Certificate of Graduate Study in Diversity and Inclusion from Rowan this fall.
LaWana says she has always been knowledgeable of diversity, what “people of color have faced, in particular Black people in this country, striving for equality.” The Rowan program’s interdisciplinary courses served to deepen her knowledge base and expand her scope of diversity and inclusion to other populations.
Calling the program “very rigorous,” LaWana says the coursework covered literature and politics as well as “qualitative research and physiological approaches to diversity and inclusion.” One particularly impactful class for LaWana was History of Political and Social Movements, which opened her eyes to other groups, from the LGBTQ+ to Native American communities, which have fought for their voices and rights throughout time.
She made connections with faculty, some of whom she considers friends. “They were able to take time with me in class and out of class. I enjoyed conversing with them on all levels of academia and personal issues,” LaWana says.
She also discovered student opportunities on campus, volunteering her time on Fridays with the Fresh for All program, which distributes produce each week to the Rowan and Glassboro communities. “I love giving back. I love serving my community,” LaWana says. “As humans, we never know when we could be that very one needing and on that receiving end. So whenever I have an opportunity in life, I always try to give and help those who may be in need because that very person could be me one day.”
LaWana’s professional goal is to impact others in the community by teaching about the benefits of being a diverse company, “using diversity and inclusion, making it a part of the fabric of each and every organization in which your employees can grow, and thrive, and balance equality among all employees,” she explains. She adds this is something that should start at the top, with executive leadership communicating directly about diversity and inclusion to their employees.
With her certificate in hand and future in sight, LaWana reflects on this Black History Month with reverence and a renewed perspective: “Black History Month to me is honoring my past ancestors and paying tribute to them for all of their achievements and progress under insurmountable odds, they still thrived. They still succeeded. And they’re still here. And also coupled with looking towards the future, the future of knowing that people are now finally being given more opportunity. Are things perfect? Absolutely not. However, I do think that we are making strides. Black history to me means honoring the ancestors, paying it forward, standing on their shoulders and doing and being the best that I can be to pass the baton to others.”
See our video with LaWana here:
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