Diversity is critical to NC State’s mission. Both Park Scholars and the Park Scholarships program are committed to building a stronger and more diverse, equitable, and inclusive program.
Opportunities for Current Students
Diversity Student Task Force
The Diversity Student Task Force allows current students to play an important role in the recruitment of new Park Scholars. By serving as Park Ambassadors and assisting with outreach to North Carolina and select out-of-state schools, members of the Diversity Student Task Force work to ensure prospective students from underrepresented communities are informed about the Park Scholarships application process. At different stages of the selection process, they hold Facebook Live events to facilitate dialogues with prospective students who are GLBTQ+, people of color, spiritual/secular, and out-of-state/international. They have also been instrumental in developing and implementing diversity-related components of Final Selection Activities, including the Identity/Interest Group Breakfast held in February 2020.
Leadership Academy Diversity Planning Committee
Leadership Academy is a four-year curriculum designed to develop Park Scholars’ leadership potential. Since 2010, it has included sessions dedicated to diversity, which is critical to leadership. The diversity sessions have evolved over the years and more recently have focused on identities, stereotypes, privilege, implicit bias, and emerging topics. These sessions are facilitated by staff from NC State’s Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity and students on the Leadership Academy Diversity Planning Committee. Each year, sophomore, junior, and senior Park Scholars are invited to join this committee to help plan and implement sessions that take place freshman year. Last year’s emerging topics included microaggressions; racial profiling, racism, and police brutality; the role of media in diversity; and socioeconomic status.
Enhancements Initiated by Park Alumni
Park alumni have played an essential role in pushing the program to evaluate its selection process and ensure that we are reaching prospective students in underrepresented communities throughout the state and country. Park alumni can serve as Park Ambassadors and recruit prospective students or be involved in the selection process by serving on the Selection Committee. Among other improvements, feedback from Park alumni has prompted the addition of enhanced Selection Committee training materials related to implicit bias, broad identification of qualifications (such as considering activism work as an example of service), and understanding context. Selection Committee members are required to affirm our Selection Committee Responsibilities and Code of Ethics each year.
Training for Park Faculty Scholars and Staff
All Park Faculty Scholars and the majority of the Park Scholarships staff have committed to completing NC State’s Cultural Competence and Inclusivity Certificate Program. Going forward, new Park Faculty Scholars and staff will complete this training. Additionally, NC State announced that all students, faculty, and staff members will be required to complete diversity and inclusion learning modules.
The Park Scholarships program is prepared for an External Review, which was scheduled to take place in April 2020 and was postponed due to the pandemic. The review will address the culture and diversity of the program, among other topics. Park Scholarships is committed to providing an excellent student experience, and the review is intended to help the program better recognize and address challenges and opportunities.
Diversity Emphasis in Programming
All Park Scholars take part in enrichment programming intended to advance their personal and professional development. In addition to the Leadership Academy diversity sessions described above, Park Scholars use Learning Labs to hone their skills in communication, engagement, inclusion, change by exploring state and national topics with prominent leaders. Topics are selected by the students and in recent years have included mass incarceration reform, tribal sovereignty, immigration policy reform, affordable housing, natural disaster preparation and recovery, and infectious disease. Civic Engagement Initiatives introduce Park Scholars to community needs and involve Park Scholars in creating meaningful community contributions through a year-long service project.
An Ongoing Process
Park Scholarships is continually changing to better develop our scholars’ potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character so that they are prepared to make lifelong contributions to the university, state, nation, and world. We are committed to continuous improvement and we welcome input to further grow the program and strengthen our mission.