Settling into a mix of people.
Written, photos & video by Martay Whitfield
Diversity refers to the difference among individuals, although many assume it focuses on only race and ethnicity. Those differences also include economic status, sexual orientation and age. College is one place that you can find diversity through a mix of people working together to improve their community by receiving a higher education. Many come from all over to live in the Austin area and attend ACC with aspirations to transfer into The University of Texas at Austin.
Adrian Fierro, general studies student, moved to Austin from West Texas. “[At ACC] I’m meeting people, I wouldn’t have normally met. Coming to a big city like this and having an open mindset, floating around is interesting.”
At ACC Fierro experiences a safe and cultured environment. “I have never had a problem at ACC, I think that it has a very [open-minded] faculty as well as the student body.” Fierro feels that ACC does everything in their power to make everyone feel accepted and at home.
One thing about college is it can help you to discover yourself. Through the growth of diversity at ACC, there is sensitivity to certain subjects. “ACC is culturally sensitive,” says philosophy and psychology student, Grant Loveless. “ACC is all about making it comfortable to succeed and develop success.”
Education at ACC is about challenging and finding your beliefs. The school has programs and organizations for almost anyone. And if a student can’t find a suitable place at ACC, Student Life offers the opportunity to create an organization for those enrolled in classes. Student organizations like Onward to Interpreting, First Generation Students of ACC and Gender & Sexuality Alliance are offered to students for an inclusive community.
The Male Leadership Program (MLP), began in the Office of Student Life. The program is known for providing institutional support to encourage success for first-year male students, by providing a network of resources. This program is inclusive of men, women and non-binary students.
There is one student organization currently in the works by a few students. Similar to the Black Student Association, this organization will be Black Minds Empowered. Their mission will be focused on providing resources and a safe space to minority students.
Alexis Carr, psychology student, is one of the creators of Black Minds Empowered. “We see the lack of community in the African American culture as black students. We don’t really speak to each other, like when we walk by each other – there’s lack of communication. So we just want to have a space for students to come and express how they feel as a minority student, as a black student.”
Carr believes that the ethnic diversity at ACC can improve, so she is working to help this community. Austin, known for being “weird” or “the blue dot in the red state,” portrays a sense of liberalism.
“In Texas, specifically, we do see a lot of cultural insensitivities going on in different cities where we have injustice and inequality around minorities,” Loveless says. “[At ACC,] we have a large array of students with various cultures, students, backgrounds and nationalities. So the diversity at ACC, here, is number one.”
Fierro oversees diversity and inclusion for the Student Government Association. My experience here at ACC has been life-changing. Where I’m from you don’t really get to experience half the things you get to, we don’t have the conversations we have here. Especially being in the middle of not only political issues, but scientific advancements. Austin is basically Silicon Valley, so it’s amazing to have it all combined.”
As a community college in an open-minded city, ACC embodies the “weirdness” of Austin. There are 11 campuses in the Austin area, making ACC the sixth largest community college in the United States, and the fourth largest college in Texas. ACC works to represent diversity while making every campus feel safe and welcoming. These values embody ACC’s slogan, “Start Here. Get There.”