Huskies Unite to Support Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
By Tony Scott
Tamara Boston, ’13, M.S.Ed. ’16, project coordinator for the Division of Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI), stresses the importance of having ADEI's resources on NIU’s campus for students and employees.
Donors can support ADEI’s many crucial programs and resources during the upcoming Huskies United day of giving on June 22 and 23.
ADEI includes Diversity and Cultural Resource Centers, such as the Asian American Resource Center, the Center for Black Studies, Latino Resource Center, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, and Undocumented Student Support. The division also includes services such as Prevention Education and Outreach, and Social Justice Education, among other resources for students, employees and the community.
“I hear a lot of positive feedback about the programs, services, and resources provided,” Boston said. “The Division of ADEI recognizes and celebrates the multiple identities each holds. Everyone on campus can identify and see themselves in the programs and resources. Additionally, the staff at the Centers recognize, validate, and affirm students, faculty, and staff intersecting identities, which the campus community values and appreciates.”
Boston grew up on Chicago’s South Side, attending the Academy of Our Lady High School and later Morton College but was a non-traditional student who finished her education at NIU. Boston was with her daughter, Madison, at a college fair where Madison was deciding where to go for school, when an admissions counselor from NIU first approached Madison - and subsequently Boston - about going to NIU.
“After we met, the counselor suggested that I visit the campus,” Boston recalled. “The counselor highlighted all the resources available to Madison and me, including on-campus housing such as Northern View Community for upperclassmen. While visiting the campus with Madison and my cousin, I imagined I looked lost. I was staring at the campus map, trying to figure out where Zulauf Hall was located, when at two different times, students approached me to ask if I needed help; the rest is history.”
Boston graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in political science with minors in sociology and psychology in 2013, followed by a Master of Science in Education in 2016.
Boston’s career at NIU began at the inception of ADEI, when it was a department within the Division of Academic Affairs. Her career has grown and expanded along with ADEI, she said.
“Initially, I focused on programming but shifted to doing more project management and student advocacy,” Boston said. “In addition, I support the ADEI team in their endeavors, and thankfully, I continuously expand my knowledge base because I learn about other identities and cultures, which informs my work.”
Boston said student success is at the heart of everything she does at ADEI.
“The ADEI team functions to ensure all are included and have a sense of belonging on campus,” she said. “We operate collectively to bring awareness to social justice issues, understanding gender and sexual identities, race and racism, and how it all intersects and impacts student success. Student success is at the heart of everything I do. ADEI strives to remove barriers to student success. The aforementioned is why I work in this capacity within the Division of ADEI.”
ADEI provides a variety of workshops and other opportunities to bring awareness to students and the community.
“Among the Division of ADEI’s strategic priorities is to educate and bring awareness to social justice issues,” Boston said. “ADEI has given students, faculty, and staff a voice to speak up when they witness something that is not right. The campus community has reflected on the lessons and teaching in the various workshops, podcasts, and programs and has used it to empower themselves and teach others about the impact of policies and practices harmful to people with marginalized identities. Additionally, President Lisa Freeman has embedded equitable and inclusive approaches in everything the university does, from the institutional goals to the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion drive all we do at NIU.”
Giving to ADEI ultimately benefits society as a whole, Boston said.
"I believe that the work that the Division of ADEI benefits more than the campus community," she said. "Donating to ADEI supports student success and fosters dialogue that challenges biases and assumptions about people and moves the campus, DeKalb, and other communities forward for the betterment of society."
For more information on Huskies United, please visit the website: https://dog.niu.edu.
To sign up to become a Huskies United ambassador, please visit this website: https://dog.niu.edu/giving-day/56762/signup.
If you have questions about becoming an ambassador, please contact Liz McKee, M.S.Ed. ’14, at Lmckee@niu.edu.