Steinhardt Students in NYU’s Social Sector Leadership and Diversity Fellowship

SSLD is a cohort of graduate students of color who come together and learn different skills around leadership and leadership development. All these students come from different backgrounds and also different disciplines, Corey Blay is the Founder of SSLD and I think that Corey is a person that’s so relatable to us. One, because he was an NYU student. Two, because he makes sure that we know that he’s there to support us. Aside from how Corey equips us with the knowledge of different leadership styles, we do a lot of internal work in terms of understanding our narrative and how that impacts what we want to do in the social sector. SSLD has impacted my work by giving me a cohort of colleagues and students, and not only that, but friends that really helped me feel empowered that my work isn’t something that I’m the only one working on. When I talk to law students or policy students or students in social work, it really helps me realize that all of this work is much more intertwined than I thought. Being part of the Higher Education and Student Affairs master’s program has given me the critical analytical tools to look at educational issues through various lenses. I have been able to take that to the SSLD Fellowship by thinking critically about leadership, and the type of change I want to make. I work at two public schools in the Lower East Side, predominately Black and Hispanic kids, and I’m always like how to make them see that there’s more and there’s a community at NYU that looks just like them that’s thriving. When I think about equity specifically, or the difference between equity and equality, I’m thinking about making up for whatever resources opportunities that marginalized groups may have not had access to in the past. I believe that everyone should have the right and opportunity to reach their full potential. So no matter what sector you’re in, what career choice you decide to be in, to see we have to represent how America looks. SSLD practices racial equity by allowing students of color the opportunity to engage in work with one another, allowing them to have opportunities to really focus on their personal passions, thinking about how they want to explore opportunities for leadership and to collaborate with other people who are like-minded. Out of all the things I’ve taken away, one of the most fundamental has been how to frame my personal narrative and use it to fuel my passion for the work. I’ve never been in a room full of students of color, and you know friends, that have provided a space that is not competitive at all. Although you see and you’re inspired by different people’s goals and their achievements and their activism, I’ve never been in a room where I felt so supported in being able to tell people about my goal. One, not having to explain why that goal is a necessity here in our society, and two, being given all the guidance and love possible to really get to that goal. I’ve never been to a much more community-oriented space that ensures that not only are we succeeding, but we’re succeeding together.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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