The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Diversity and Minority Affairs recently hired two new Diversity and Inclusion Fellows, according to a press release Monday morning.
New fellows Xavier J. du Maine and Andrew N. Westover will join current fellow Alyssa M. Hernandez in the fellowship program created last spring in an effort to strengthen ties between the GSAS administration and its students. The inaugural fellows, Hernandez and Alfredo M. Valencia, have said they applied for the positions to create a more welcoming community within GSAS, specifically focusing on increasing representation of minority communities.
Following Hernandez and Valencia’s appointments, the school faced demand for a third BGLTQ-focused Fellow after BGLTQ@GSAS sent messages to administrators and posted on social media calling for more BGLTQ-oriented resources and support.
Du Maine and Westover said they hope to carry on their forerunners’ torch and expand the scope of the fellows’ mission at GSAS.
Du Maine, a Ph.D. student in biological and biomedical sciences who identifies as a student of color, is replacing Valencia’s position after Valencia stepped down at the close of last semester. Du Maine said that upon arriving at Harvard, his expectations for Harvard graduate student life flipped on their head: Rather than struggle with a challenging academic environment, du Maine immediately found himself face-to-face with isolation and emotional strain. As an underrepresented student, du Maine wrestled to find a community at GSAS, according to the press release.
Despite his difficulties with graduate student life, du Maine said his appointment offers him the chance to shape the culture at GSAS into something more welcoming.
“I applied to be a GSAS diversity and inclusion fellow because I want to help create a culture in which underrepresented students in GSAS can thrive and flourish in graduate school and not just survive,” du Maine said in the release. “Being a fellow allows me to serve, support, and advocate for underrepresented students in GSAS, which is an honor and a privilege.”
Westover’s appointment fulfills the office's promise to appoint a BGLTQ-focused Fellow. A Ph.D. student in education, Westover said he will work to “assess the needs of the LGBTQ community and provide a bridge between LGBTQ students, the revitalized LGBTQ@GSAS student group, and the administration,” according to the release.
Westover said he sought the fellowship as a strong believer in the necessity of communal support.
“I hope to learn more about the needs and desires of LGBTQ+ students across GSAS’s programs,” Westover said in the release. “We are already thinking about ways to establish stronger lines of communication and support.”
GSAS Dean Emma Dench, who recently announced the launch of a long-term initiative to improve advising at GSAS, also shared her thoughts on the Fellows’ role in shaping GSAS in the release.
“I am delighted that GSAS now has three diversity and inclusion fellows tasked with student outreach,” Dench said in the press release. “The connections they make and the information they gather will be crucial as we determine how best to enhance support for our diversity and inclusion efforts.”
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