Supporting Faculty Diversity
When Abbie Schulz ’20 MS’21 transferred to Santa Clara University from Penn State after her first year, she fully embraced what a smaller school has to offer—closer relationships with professors, more in-depth class discussions, and a deeper engagement in her overall learning. As she approaches finishing her Master’s in Marketing, Abbie has reflected on how her Santa Clara experience changed her perspective and showed her the value of giving back.
During her undergraduate tenure, Abbie’s courses challenged her to reflect and have conversations about the diversity of her own campus and cohort of classmates. Although SCU has become increasingly diverse over the years, and now more closely reflects the populations of California and the country as whole, there is still work to be done.
Robin Nelson, a former SCU Anthropology professor, explained to Abbie’s class that she is one of only a handful of black anthropologists in the entire field. Having a professor with such a unique experience and perspective set the tone for open, deep, and sometimes uncomfortable discussions among Abbie’s classmates. In one of her humanities and social science courses, Abbie juxtaposed the divisive and inflammatory language around immigration on the news to that of the firsthand experiences of her professors who had families from Latin America who had crossed the border themselves. She learned and embraced the fuller picture of what it means to immigrate to the US, be an immigrant in the US, and how the media dehumanizes these struggles. As a white student, Abbie felt fortunate to have the opportunity and space to learn first-hand about experiences that have been historically oppressed or overlooked.
As Abbie journeys beyond her graduation in 2021, her parents John and Barbara have empowered her to be intentional about how she gives back to Santa Clara University. With this in mind, Abbie and her family are supporting the Provost’s Faculty Diversity Fund, hoping that when students see themselves directly reflected in the composition of faculty, they experience a greater sense of belonging, leading to the diverse campus that Abbie has seen developing in her tenure.
“It is incredibly important to understand privilege and how beautiful it is to be in a community with so many different experiences, stories, and perspectives. We cannot continue to create a diverse student population if students themselves don't see professors who look like them.”
Santa Clara has given Abbie everything she and her parents dreamed of in a college experience—long-term connections and relationships, a broadened perspective, and fond memories. She hopes that with a more diverse faculty, students from all backgrounds will have even richer, more meaningful experiences and opportunities.