Seniors See First Annual Diversity Conference Come to Life

For their senior project, Taylor Dews ’18, Cecilia Innis ’18 and Haley Bartel ’18 coordinated, organized and produced Norfolk Collegiate’s Diversity Conference. It followed the theme “the human family” after the famous poem by Maya Angelou. The students successfully promoted the “meaningful conversations that explore the responsibilities humans have to [their own], worldwide ‘family’ within the scope of [their] diverse backgrounds.”

Schools in Hampton Roads were invited to send students to the event to broaden their knowledge of inclusivity. The conference saw students from Norfolk Christian, Green Run High School, Cape Henry and Norfolk Academy.

At the beginning of the day, attendees signed up for breakout sessions lead by a cast of experts like Local YOUth Advisor and Transgender Activist Zain Welsh; Journalist, Muslim and Author Lisa Suhay; Ph.D. Student and Education Policy Activist Evandra Catherine and Collegiate’s Ashley King and Evan Benedict ’04.

The capstone of the event was an interactive talk and presentation from local “people connector” and keynote speaker Kimberly Wimbish. Mother, entrepreneur, businesswoman and full-time student at Norfolk State University, Wimbish uses her marketing skills and innovative approach to do the back-end work for many nonprofit organizations, small businesses, college universities, celebrity clients, sports management and political campaigns, as well as corporate industry branding and community service.

“[We’d] been working on this conference for 11  months, and having it finally come to life [was] so exciting,” said Haley.

“The most important message I left with is all of us have room to gain more knowledge and understanding of others,” said Cecilia. “There are so many different facets of diversity we sometimes don’t think about that are essential to our acceptance of those unlike us. I think it’s also important to understand this learning process is ever-changing; we can never stop becoming more aware, compassionate and driven when it comes to exploring diversity.”