Student leaders get diversity lesson

With Sam Houston State University’s growing and diverse student population, the office of Multicultural and International Student Services and the SHSU Diversity Council held their 2nd annual Diversity Leadership Conference 2006 this weekend in the Lowman Student Center and Lee Drain Building.

The two-day event inspired and informed students to put aside cultural differences and to accept diversity with open arms through enlightenment.

Students from SHSU, as well as students from across Texas, came together during the weekend and bridged social gaps by listening to inspiring speakers and participating in interactive workshop sessions.

Alicia Demeke, former president and current diversity training coordinator for TAMUG SEED, Texas A&M Galveston multicultural organization said, “We look for conferences like this to find direction and maintain what we have now. Being here, I realized I might have to look outside my campus to find allies to facilitate the diversity initiatives that we have on our campus.”

Friday, the Office of M.I.S.S. welcomed students to the Diversity Leadership Conference by having an Italian themed dinner and had speaker Given Kachepa shed light about his struggle with social injustice.

Kachepa, originally from Zambia, was a victim of human trafficking but is now a freshman at Stephan F. Austin University, majoring in pre-med. Kachepa feels passionately about sharing his life story and preventing the horrors of human trafficking from happening to someone else.

“A lot of people do not know about it so if they don’t know about it, there is no way for them to go out and help all those people who are slaves, so the biggest thing is getting the message out,” said Kachepa.

Kachepa keeps in touch with his relatives and friends back home and is looked upon as a source for inspiration from his peers. Kachepa appreciates where he is at in his life and hopes to one day return to his home country where he can give back to his African community.

Workshops held on Saturday were aimed to inform and promote interaction with culturally different people.

Workshop presenter Dr. Rebecca M. Bustamante said that students attending the workshops should leave with, “a sense of integrity as leaders and to promote diversity in a real way. That may include educating and confronting ignorance requiring a lot of guts and courage.”

Abdallah Muhammad-Bey, a 1999 SHSU criminal justice graduate and current alcohol and drug counselor, commented about the conference. “It was awesome. It had a great impact on me, and I learned a lot of things about diversity and so forth.”

The current TSU graduate student and practicing Muslim would like to see “Interfaith Dialogue, which is when people of different faiths come together and talk about scriptures to eliminate prejudice or stereotypes about a religion,” said Muhammad-Bey.

“Gender diversity, that was cool. We talked about how people from different countries identify with gender roles,” said international graduate student Ehi Aigbomin.

The Office of M.I.S.S is planning on bringing back the Diversity Leadership Conference for 2007. If you missed this weekend’s conference but wish to get involved with diversifying SHSU, visit or call (936) 294-3652 to learn more about the Office of M.I.S.S.

Leave a Reply