New Ally/Multicultural Club Coordinator Plans Campus-Wide Collaboration

Kailene Nye, Reporter

Faculty and students are welcoming Linh Nguyena, who took over as the new Manager of Multicultural and Inclusion Initiatives at beginning of the spring semester.

Nguyen is filling the former position of Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, which dealt primarily with advising students. The new title, however, allows her to collaborate with all campus departments and clubs to make the university a more inclusive space for students, faculty and staff.

Nguyen is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a minor in psychology, and a master’s in both student affairs and administration and higher education.

She worked at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. in a similar position, working with students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

She said she heard about the position from a friend when she was visiting Wilkes Barre from her home in Louisville. She met with Kit Foley, Vice President of Student Life, and Amy Lahart, Dean of Students, briefly before she left and then returned weeks later for the official interview.

“Everyone has just been so warm and welcoming. Everyone has been so excited,” Nguyen said. “I think a lot of people have brought up the fact that this position just hasn’t had a person in it for a very long time, so there’s a lot of excitement behind it from different parties and different faculty, staff, and students. They’re just excited to have someone in here and to begin the work.”

She said the importance of her job lies in the representation and inclusion of students and faculty from different cultural backgrounds and identities.

“I think it’s important to support your underrepresented students on campus. We’re not just talking about students of color or the LGBTQ+ Community, but also our first-generation students, our lower SEC students, we have a few international students. When you think of students of underrepresented faith backgrounds and all those different identities and our students with disabilities as well, you just need to have someone to kind of lead that charge,” she said.

It is important to have someone to help educate the campus as a whole and make it a more inclusive place for everyone, she said.

“In order to properly prepare our students for an ever-diversifying world, you need to have multicultural and diverse education. Everyone just needs to understand how to live in a diverse world and be able to be respectful of all identities and faith backgrounds and stories. I think all of that is really important,” Nguyen said.

Iana Davis, junior mass communications and design major and an active member of the Multicultural Club, is pleased she is to finally have someone in this position.

“She met some of the members, and we just got to talk to her and see what she’s done for her other school. She was so cool and really ready to help us push the club to new heights. She was so welcoming and ready to hear us out and not take over.”

“She was ready to work with us instead of just for us,” Davis added.

Davis said having the job filled is important because the position brings more attention to the club’s goal.

“The club is important due to the lack of diversity at the school and the diversity of people we do have at school know little to nothing. We didn’t have guidance and we could only do so much. We needed help with funding and working to get the word out and help with getting students on campus to actually care, so it was really important to get that help so that the club could grow,” Davis said.

Nguyen said her main priority is to start a dialogue.

“I know there’s a large difference between debating and having a dialogue, and I think that gets lost in the media or on social networking platforms but being able to start from the ground up, being able to provide a really great space for students, faculty, and staff to learn and to converse with one another on identity and social justice is really important,” she said.

She hopes to help students discover, understand, and take pride in their own identities.

“I want students to be proud of who they are, not only to be comfortable, but super proud of it because I think it starts from within. You have to be confident and you have to comfortable with who you are and after that, you’re going to be thriving in every sort of way, so I think that’s really important. I think what I’m going to be focusing on within the first year that I’m here is really getting that conversation started,” Nguyen said.

Davis said her hopes include more programs to help spread the club’s message of the importance of diversity.

“I hope to see more programs, a lot more things coming from the club events and bigger discussion nights where people really want to talk about these challenging issues,” she said.

She said she also hopes having a manager will help attract more members.

Nguyen said she is looking forward to working with students.

“I’m excited to work with them. The students have great energy.”

Nguyen said campus-wide collaboration can accomplish much.

“I’ve been talking about collaboration all across the board because I think when you look at it, identity is the basis of everything. I had a meeting with career development, so we were thinking about how we are engaging students and their identities in choosing a career and networking with professionals with the same kind of identities, learning how to work in a diverse world. I think that’s all very important,” she said.