Students recently participated in The Power of One: Awareness, Change, Responsibility Social Justice Institute, a one-day conference hosted by Diversity Advocacy in January.

The institute provided students with opportunities to explore the identities that make up who they are and helped them gain a better understanding of how these identities impact everything they do.

Through facilitated activities, exercises and small group dialogue, participants engaged in conversations that challenged and supported them in their journey toward understanding how they can individually impact our global community.

Roshaunda Coleman, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, found the institute very eye-opening.

“The hardest part of the Social Justice Institute was having to admit to myself that I have subconsciously played a part in separating myself from others” based upon different identities, she said.

Coleman continued to explain that just because someone may have a different identity than your own, “does not mean they are any different from you or should be treated as such.”

Coleman is thankful she was able to learn more about herself and different perspectives of others.

“The most rewarding takeaway I got from the institute was how similar everyone is in some way, shape or form despite the social differences such as race, religion, gender, class and sexual orientation,” she said.

Coleman recommends for students to attend next year’s institute, as she describes her experience as “transformative.”

For more information about the Social Justice Institute or other cultural programming, please contact Diversity Advocacy at (309) 438-8968.

Marie Huels was a contributor to this article.