A tribute to Rosa and Ruth, Humans of CICS, Community Spotlights, Events ::
A tribute to Rosa and Ruth, Humans of CICS, Community Spotlights, Events ::
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg … Erika Lynn Dawson Head and Emma Anderson?

What do the late Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Emma, and I have in common? We are all women under the height of 5’4, believe that equity in the world is possible, and have spent our lives working towards it. Parks was the first woman and African American person to lay in honor at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Ginsberg was the first woman and Jewish person to lie in state at the Capitol. Parks became famous after she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, and Ginsburg became known for arguing gender equity cases before the Supreme Court (and writing decisions once she was on the bench). They both fought inequity in their own way.
History has forever been changed by two women who believed they could make a difference and acted on their beliefs. Their size, demeanor, and ability to physically fight back were not their superpowers, their power came from their voices, knowledge, self-confidence, and willingness to stand up alone for what they believed in.
In STEM environments, it is common for people from historically marginalized populations to stand alone. While our personal courage and resilience are often keys to our success, it is important that we recognize opportunities to join others and receive the support we need in our struggle for equity.
Due to the work and sacrifices Rosa Parks and Ruth Bader Ginsberg made, our world has been forever changed. It is important for us all to remember and pay our respects to these two gender and racial equity icons, because our lives are all impacted by their sacrifices and willingness to sit in uncomfortable spaces. The opportunities I have as a Black woman and Emma has a queer woman would not exist without their heroic actions.
Rosa Parks and Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved that we all have the ability to create a more equitable world. It does not take a grand effort to make a difference—every effort of any size has the possibility of making a difference in someone’s life. Consider yourself invited to join me as part of an elite team of CICS citizens that not only “compute for the common good,” but live our lives working for the common good.
Rosa Parks and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—rest in peace, my sisters, your legacy and work will live on forever.
Erika Dawson Head, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development

Katie Smith

Staff Spotlight: Katie Smith

Research Administrator Katie Smith is chair of the CARE (Committee Against Racism and for Equity) subteam, Creating an Inclusive Classroom. In this role, along with team members Assistant Professor Cameron Musco and MS/PhD student William Lee, Smith is working with faculty at CICS to make our classrooms more inclusive.
The subteam is specifically interested in the opportunities to use inclusive practices to positively impact international students, students of color, and first-generation students. Through a self-titled lecture series, they have invited guests from across campus to share their expertise in working through academic barriers such as how to write an inclusive syllabus and how to work through language barriers while celebrating multilingual students.
For Smith, who worked as a professor of anthropology at the University of Southern Mississippi before coming to CICS, a commitment to inclusion is crucial to furthering higher education. “I have always believed that anyone who wants to learn deserves the opportunity to do so, but sometimes there are unseen and unintentional barriers that make that difficult or impossible,” she says. “Anyone that teaches has the opportunity to create a classroom culture that allows for all to feel welcome and truly included, and this working group is here to aid all [teachers in] creating and facilitating a learning space that will make students feel welcome, heard, and excited to learn.”
Jaime Dávila

Faculty Spotlight: Jaime Dávila

Senior Teaching Faculty Jaime Dávila joined us last month for our (Our)story speaker series to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month. In his talk, Dávila discussed his commitment to helping his students through “imposter syndrome” and the importance of reinforcing students’ confidence in themselves.
As someone who grew up in Puerto Rico, Dávila recognizes that he did not face the kind of adversity and microaggressions that people from marginalized populations face stateside, saying “I admire those students who have grown up in the US, members of underrepresented groups, and how far they move in the United States battling against all else."
Dávila attributes a portion of his success to his mentors in his academic and professional work, and is devoted to seeking an inclusive education for all his students. His biggest piece of advice for students is to “surround yourself with people that love you and care about you ... I have been blessed with people who have approached me, helped me, and stuck by my side without me even realizing.”
Nick Perello

Student Profile: Nick Perello '18, MS/PhD Student

Nick Perello, an MS/PhD student in computer science at CICS, is the founder of B[U]ILT (Black, Indigenous, and Latinx in Tech), a student organization advocating for racial equity in the tech industry and also in academia, where he says representation problems can be even worse. He was inspired to found B[U]ILT at CICS after his experiences as a senior fellow with Code2040, an organization dedicated to connecting Black and Latinx tech talent with companies, mentors, and peers committed to racial equity and inclusion. About that experience, he says, “I realized one of the things that really helped uplift underrepresented minorities in tech was having the ability to see people like you in computer science and/or be able to share the experiences and discuss [them].”
Perello’s current research, conducted with Professor Przemyslaw Grabowicz, focuses on machine learning fairness research. Perello, who also serves on the CICS CARE core committee and as co-chair of the CARE Faculty Teaching subcommittee, notes that his inspiration for this area of focus came partly from faculty members at CICS whose interest in fairness and ethics in computer science helped him “realize the path of going down that line of fair and ethical research.”
Humans of CICS

Humans of CICS

CICS students Jessica Johnson, Srisuma Movva, Simon Andrews, and Saiyyam Kochar are the organizing committee behind a new effort, Humans of CICS, that will share the lives and stories of the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of our college. Patterned after the popular Humans of New York Instagram account, the students are working on a series of interviews to uncover what makes the people of CICS tick—barriers we’ve overcome, sources of inspiration and support, and our tricks to making it all work.
As they put it, “Not all of us look the same, have the same experiences, or come from the same place, but we all belong in CICS, and as you'll find below, our similarities far outweigh our differences. We spend a lot of time learning about our machines—these are the stories of our humans.”
If you’re interested in being a subject, contact the team at humans@cics.umass.edu! Interviews will be brief (15–20 minutes), and you will be provided directions on how to supply a photo of yourself to go with it.
Fall 2020 Drop-in Groups

Fall 2020 Drop-in Groups for Collaboration in Quarantine

Together with the UMass Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, we will be hosting three different groups to support students during this stressful time. We will have two different groups for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a workshop-style group where students can learn strategies and skills for emotional wellbeing.
Monday Reboot—for all students—teaches practical tools from the Stress GPS method for coping with the stressors of college. Increase your sense of well-being, practice ways to calm your mind and body, and better manage emotional distress! Stress GPS sessions are offered Mondays through Fridays, but we are encouraging CICS students to choose Mondays so that we can participate together.
Connections in Quarantine—hang out with other undergrads in a safe, fun and supportive environment. Make connections, build friendships, and discuss challenges you are encountering this semester! This group meets October 20 at 2:00 p.m. Register for this session (make sure to choose the Oct. 20 session).
Making Connections—meet other graduate students, share personal experiences, and get support. There are two sessions, scheduled October 8 and October 22 at 4:00 p.m. Register for one or both sessions.

(Our)story - LGBTQIA+ Celebration

We are hosting a series celebrating the many communities of CICS called (Our)story. Each month we will have a special speaker from CICS share their story about their personal or professional journey, culture, identity, lessons learned, and more. Come listen to the experiences shared by Emma Anderson, Director of Inclusive Education & Teaching Support, and stay afterward to share stories and listen to our CICS LGBTQIA+ community.
Friday, October 2, 11:45am–12:45pm

Disability Services Training

Do you want to make your classroom more inclusive? Join a webinar with Disability Services to learn more about student needs and resources that are available to you!
Tuesday, October 6, 10:00–11:00am

CICS Community Discussion on Antiracism

Come to this special discussion for members of the CICS community who have signed our Pledge to Take Action Against Racism and other interested community members. We will discuss what we have learned and accomplished in the course of taking our pledged actions and recommit ourselves to continued work towards antiracism. The discussion will also feature a special presentation from Assistant Professor Narges Mahyar, doctoral student Alyx Burns, and undergraduate student Andrew Cunningham on their work to adapt data visualization charts first created by W.E.B. DuBois in 1900 to show the ability of Black Americans to overcome oppression.
Tuesday, October 13, 4:00–5:00pm

Creating an Inclusive Classroom Community for International Students

Have you wondered how you can make your virtual events more accessible for all audiences? Do you have questions on terminology, technology, and best practices? The CICS Events Office invites all interested parties to part one of this two-part workshop series on virtual event accessibility. 
Wednesday, October 14, Noon–1:00pm

Suicide Prevention Training

Join us and the UMass Center for Counseling & Psychological Health for a training in suicide prevention. Learn to recognize the warning signs of depression or suicide, and find practical ways to support others and/or yourself.
Friday, October 23, 9:00–11:00am

Sign up — CICS Fall 2020 Book Discussion Groups

Join us for meaningful discussions about race and racism using one of two wonderful books (or sign up for both!): Ruha Benjamin’s Race After Technology and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.
Register by Sunday, October 4 — meeting dates will be based on participant availability

Sign up — Understanding Yourself & Others: CICS Faculty/Staff

Join us in this important journey where we can build closer relationships, explore strategies to overcome stressors, have fun, and learn how to thrive in this new normal! This group will meet for one hour a week for four weeks.
Register by Sunday, October 4 — meeting dates will be based on participant availability
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