Happy National Arab American Heritage Month :: You Belong @ CICS
Happy National Arab American Heritage Month :: You Belong @ CICS
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Lynn Dawson Head

Happy National Arab American Heritage Month!

This is a great time to celebrate and learn more about Arab American culture, heritage, and contributions to our university and society. Arab Americans are diverse and come from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Take a moment to learn more about Arab and Arab American culture with this huge list of resources (including but not limited to this article about how to make eight different kinds of falafel). And of course, remember to always be an ally to our Arab and Arab American colleagues and community members, who can be targeted with Islamophobia, regardless of their background. If you observe an act of racism, say something in the moment if it is safe for you to do so, and make sure to report it to get support.
April is also Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month, so here is a funny joke to ponder: “A statistics professor and a math professor worked together on a cookbook. They called it π á la Mode.
Finally, join me in wishing our UMass Amherst Men’s Hockey team success in representing the East Coast at the upcoming Frozen Four. Go UMass!
Erika Lynn Dawson Head, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development
College of Information and Computer Sciences, UMass Amherst
Hannan Rhodes

Community Profile: 
Hannan Rhodes, Developer Student Club

The Developer Student Club (DSC) is a Google-sponsored  organization providing students the opportunity to see how the industry works. Hannan Rhodes, president of the club, believes that their workshops and projects help bridge the gap between academia and industry—including Rhodes’s favorite seminar on how to create your own server and host your own website.
DSC works to make every workshop beginner-friendly and inclusive to all majors. Rhodes notes that the club will next be led by Maahi Goel, a psychology and computer science major. Moving forward, the organization hopes to expand on its partnership efforts with other student clubs like UMass ACM and the UMass Cybersecurity Club.
Rhodes looks forward to the pandemic being over, when the organization can meet in person and network after seminars, rather than through breakout rooms. For now, since he finds breakout rooms particularly difficult to talk to people in, he likes to keep “silly gags” around his desk to get laughs and start conversations.
Cover: A Thousand Splendid Suns

Book Recommendation:
A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Khaled Hosseini

This novel by the Afghanistan-born, U.S.-based author of The Kite Runner chronicles thirty years of Afghan history and details a story of family, friendship, faith, and the salvation  found through love.
"A Thousand Splendid Suns is an ambitious work. Once again the setting is Afghanistan, but this time [Hosseini] has taken the last 33 years of that country's tumultuous history of war and oppression and told it on an intimate scale, through the lives of two women." — The New York Times
Yanlei Diao

Faculty Spotlight: Yanlei Diao

Professor Yanlei Diao was an early member of the outreach and diversity committee when CICS was still only a department. Back then, one of the major initiatives that she focused on was encouraging women to go into science and engineering, efforts which helped earn her the CRA-W Anita Borg Early Career Award in 2013, which is awarded to one female computer scientist each year for outstanding contributions in both research and outreach. Diao speaks highly of the senior members of CICS who have mentored her over the years, particularly Professor Emerita Lori Clarke and Dean Laura Haas, and aims to provide the same support to others by coaching doctoral students and junior women.
In her time at CICS, Diao has advised many young women in their studies, and continues to find new ways to connect with students through remote learning. While the screen sharing, chat, and polls found in Zoom provide new ways to spark conversations, she finds that office hours are still important so that faculty can “really take the time to talk to each individual student and see their faces.”
Pamela Stawasz

Staff Spotlight:
Pamela Stawasz

Pamela Stawasz, academic advisor, enjoys providing information and support to students to help them reach their goals. She hopes to encourage CICS students to reach out to advising staff this semester because they are “all rooting for students' success.”
Stawasz’s career has included many different roles in higher education, such as in admissions, teaching, advising, residential life, LGBTQIA student support and services, and alumni and parent programs. Before CICS, she worked at an organization supporting survivors of domestic abuse and relationship violence.
“Diversity, inclusion, and antiracism have been an important part of every position I have held. I do my best to understand my own identities and how they may interact with the identities of others; I also do my best to build cultural competence to be respectful and inclusive of all. I have been a diversity educator in the past, and bring that work into my everyday interactions.”
Outside of work, Stawasz fosters cats and kittens for a local rescue organization. “That's been super fun—especially going to the adoptions and handing cats and kittens over to their new owners. You get to see people so happy.” During the pandemic, she has been watching a lot of streaming content, and participates in occasional virtual game nights hosted by “awesome fellow CICS advisor” Laura Melbin.
Showing Up with Asian and Asian American Folks: April 5

Communications Department Annual Lecture: Safiyfa Noble

The UMass Department of Communication will host Safiyfa Noble, associate professor at UCLA and author of Algorithms of Oppression. In her book, Noble challenges the idea that “Big Tech” offers an equal playing field, arguing that private interests and monopoly power lead to a limited understanding of how racism is created and disseminated in everyday digital engagements.
Thursday, April 1, noon

Breakfast with Du Bois

Start your weeks with W. E. B. Du Bois. On Monday mornings, join the Du Bois Center and students of every field of study to read and discuss a Du Bois-authored or related text.
Mondays at 9:30am

Showing Up with Asian and Asian American Folks: A Community Forum and Dialogue on Building Solidarity

There has been a growing wave of incidents of racial, misogynistic, and xenophobic violence against Asians and Asian Americans. The targeted mass killing of Asian women and two other people in Atlanta has horrified the world and calls us to take a stand. Let's come together as a community to discuss how to build a more inclusive and just campus community.
Monday, April 5, 6:00–7:30pm
The Bro Code: How Silence Affects Women and Men
Filmmaker Thomas Keith takes aim at the forces in male culture that condition boys and men to dehumanize and disrespect women. Keith breaks down a range of contemporary media forms that are saturated with sexism, and by showing how there's nothing natural or inevitable about this mentality, The Bro Code challenges young people to step up and fight back against the idea that being a real man means disrespecting women.
Tuesday, April 6, 1:40pm

(Our)story: Ishita Dasgupta & Veero Sivarajan

Come listen to the experiences shared by two international students in the latest installment of the (Our)story series, where CICS community members share stories about their personal or professional journeys, culture, identity, and lessons learned. In this installment, Dasgupta and Sivarajan will talk about finding community and support as international students.
Thursday, April 8, 11:45am–12:45pm

The Role of Faculty in Student Mental Health

This 90-minute webinar from the Mary Christie Foundation will present the findings of a recent study examining the perceptions and behaviors of higher education faculty as they relate to supporting student mental health and substance use. Presenters will provide policy-relevant information including faculty's experiences supporting students in distress during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, April 8, 1:00pm

Creating Pathways to Social Good in Your STEM Career

What does it mean to be a “socially responsible leader” in tech? How can you gauge the equity ethic of a company? What do employee resources groups, corporate social responsibility and impact programs really do? Join Christine Fraser, senior vice president of strategy and operations at Dell EMC, and the Institute of Diversity Sciences, for a discussion of these questions and Fraser's own trajectory in tech.
Monday, April 12, 6:00–7:00pm

From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Shifting Mindsets for Student Success

Tia Brown McNair, author of From Equity Talk to Equity Walk, helps move higher education beyond just talking about racial justice to actively changing systems that promote inequity. In this event sponsored by the College of Natural Sciences, UMass HHMI Inclusive Excellence Program, and the UMass Office of Equity and Inclusion, she will provide guidelines on changing campus culture with data, concrete goals, and methods to empower faculty and staff to become equity practitioners.
Friday, April 16, 1:00–2:00pm

What Should We Include Next?

Know someone with a great story? Or someone you just want to put a spotlight on for their great work? Here at CICS, we love being able to highlight those around us who make every day a bit better. This is an opportunity to get more involved in our newsletter by nominating a student organization or faculty/staff member to be interviewed.
Nominate someone!
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
Subscribe to our email list.