Diversity is critical to the mission of NC State and the Park Scholarships program. As Park staff and faculty engage in the active, sustained efforts required to counter racial injustice and systemic oppression, Park Scholarships will share periodic updates about the progress on its work to build a stronger and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive program.
Efforts have been underway all year to increase the number of diverse and highly qualified Park Scholarships applicants from all over the country. The Park staff has worked with the Park Alumni Society to expand alumni participation as Park Ambassadors, and it has worked with Undergraduate Admissions to provide Park Ambassadors information on all out-of-state schools with at least ten NC State applicants. Park Ambassadors are encouraged to reach out to these and other schools in their areas to promote the Park Scholarships program and NC State University.
To increase the recruitment of Semifinalists, Park Scholarships staff connected candidates with current students, faculty, and staff in the days after the Semifinalist announcement. These connections were designed to create personal connections with and answer questions from candidates and their families, with the goal of raising the percentage of Semifinalists who commit to NC State.
A Spanish version of the Park Scholarships brochure was created by Park Scholars over the summer, and Park Scholars and alumni provided live translation in Spanish and Vietnamese for Semifinalist families during Semifinal Interviews in January.
Selection Committee training materials now include samples of applications demonstrating diverse ways candidates can show potential and accomplishments in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Selection Committee training materials also include information on NC State’s Bias Impact Report Team (BIRT) process, a multi-step method for evaluating reports of bias and discrimination in which the BIRT assesses each incident and proposes actions.
To enhance Selection Committee training, Park Scholarships partnered with Undergraduate Admissions to provide two sessions for Regional Selection Committee members focused on evaluating applicants while considering disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the fall, a group of 14 volunteers including students, staff, faculty, alumni, Park Advisory Committee members, and a Selection Committee leader attended the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater workshop about how racism affects institutions and outcomes. Their feedback was used to develop a series of training sessions that will be added to the Park Scholarships curriculum starting spring 2021. The training will be required for freshmen and open to all Park Scholars. The Park Scholarships program is pleased to welcome Park alumni, Park Faculty Scholars, Park Faculty Mentors, Selection Committee members, and members of the Park Advisory Committee, Park Enrichment Grant Committee, and Park Service Advisory Committee to participate in these sessions. Detailed information will be shared directly with those groups this week.
The Park Scholarships program will continue to prioritize the One Park One Pack: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund during NC State Day of Giving on March 24, 2021. Having received more than $133,000 in gifts in the fall, this fund establishes a strong foundation to build and expand essential diversity, equity, and inclusion programming for students and the greater Park Scholarships community, including the Groundwater training session described above. The fund ensures that Park Scholarships diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives have long-term financial support.
This fall, enhancements were made to SPIFFY, the Park Scholarships internal interface which includes a directory of students and alumni, networking resources, and a forum. A gender-neutral prefix option was added to individual profiles, as was a field to add personal pronouns. Park Scholars and alumni are encouraged to regularly update their SPIFFY profiles to facilitate networking among current students and alumni.
Efforts to improve the accessibility of Park Scholarships digital assets and programming continue. Park Scholarships staff resolved 236 accessibility errors on the Park Scholarships website in 2020 and made the annual report accessible. As a result of these efforts, Communications Manager Rachel Cox was named a recipient of the NC State IT Accessibility Office’s Fall 2020 Accessibility Champion Award. In addition, captioning has been added to Park Scholarships virtual events hosted on Zoom.
Staff and Faculty Training
The Park Scholarships staff and Park Faculty Scholars continue to pursue diversity training opportunities in addition to NC State’s Cultural Competence and Inclusivity Certificate, the Racial Equity Institute’s two-day Phase 1 training, and NC State’s diversity learning modules. Most of the Park Scholarships staff are members of NC State’s 2020-2021 GLBT Advocate Program and several Park Scholars are part of the program’s corollary GLBT Student Advocate Program. The Park Scholarships program values and supports these opportunities because they position staff and faculty to better address the needs of the Park community. Staff and faculty continue to pursue training beyond what is detailed above.
The Park Scholarships staff meets regularly to discuss, evaluate, and implement changes to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Staff responsible for student programming meet monthly to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and all Park Scholarships staff meet quarterly to discuss updates in their individual areas of responsibility.
This update is not a comprehensive account of all of the adjustments and improvements the program is currently pursuing; many more changes are in progress. For additional information about the Park Scholarships program’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, visit park.ncsu.edu/diversity.
If you have feedback related to Park Scholarships diversity, equity, and inclusion work, we invite you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.