Being the Difference in a Struggling Milwaukee: 2013 Diversity Gala

DiversityTreeEach year, the Graduate Student Organization of the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department hosts a celebration of sorts.

Their annual Diversity Gala aims to bring together CECP faculty, students, alumni and community members to celebrate the profession and raise money for counseling scholarships for students of color.

This year’s gala takes place on Saturday, May 4, 2013 beginning at 6:00 p.m. The event will feature hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and a cash bar. And everyone is invited.

“The Diversity Gala is such an important event because it highlights the department’s commitment to social justice and diversity,” says Dave Doucette, CECP master’s student in clinical mental health counseling. “As mental health professionals, we have discovered the significance of advocacy work and awareness of multicultural issues that might arise while working our clients, whether they are students in a high school or individuals battling substance use.”

“Our department recognizes the need to enroll and train individuals who identify as an ethnic or racial minority to diversify not only the department, but the Marquette community and overall helping field,” Doucette continues.

The Diversity Gala serves as a philanthropic effort to highlight, celebrate, and raise awareness to these issues, especially the continual fundraising for the Diversity Scholarship, awarded to an incoming or current CECP graduate student that identifies as an ethnic or racial minority.  This Diversity Scholarship is intended to reflect and support the value of students who are actively promoting diversity and social justice within the CECP department and will continue to do so within the mental health field.

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In 2011, newly admitted master’s student Affi Okokon received the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology Diversity Scholarship award.

“The Diversity Gala was the first interaction that I had with the students and faculty of Marquette’s CECP department, and it was a wonderful way to be introduced to the counseling program,” Okokon recalls. “The whole gala itself was a very festive and exciting experience, and I really enjoyed listening to the keynote speaker.

“As an African American female, it was uplifting to know that I was starting a counseling program that had a strong emphasis on acknowledging and celebrating diversity in the Milwaukee community. After attending the gala and meeting influential faculty members, students, and community leaders, I left with a feeling of empowerment and reassurance that Marquette’s CECP department was where I belonged. The Diversity Gala is a wonderful event, and I have continued to attend every year that I have been a student in the counseling program.”

But, the gala is about more than scholarship funding.  Each year, the graduate student organization also brings in a well-respected keynote speaker that actively interacts with and engages the audience in issues of advocacy, social justice, and diversity.

For 2013, the keynote is Ron Kuramoto, Director and Facilitator for Future Milwaukee. As a facilitator and consultant, Kuramoto’s clients have included People of Color Conferences for the National Association of Independent Schools, the Institute of Diversity Education and Leadership (IDEAL) Milwaukee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Community Transformation Project of Marquette University, the Leadership Southern California program as well as contracted programs for the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension, Cardinal Stritch University, and the University of Southern California.

This portion of the event allows all attendees to reflect on and pay particular attention to their own attitudes and glean useful knowledge that can be applied in every day life.

In other words, this interaction with the keynote speaker empowers all individuals to more deeply consider how they can become advocates for social justice and diversity in their everyday lives.  This sense of inspiration can unite the audience and larger community as a whole.

For more information about the 2013 Diversity Gala, including how to buy tickets, visit the College of Education web site.

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