AAPI Month, Ebony McGee Lecture & Book Group, Stride Faculty Fellowship ::
AAPI Month, Ebony McGee Lecture & Book Group, Stride Faculty Fellowship ::
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Lynn Dawson Head

End-of-the-Year Thoughts 

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and a great opportunity to learn more about the amazing contributions to the world from folks of AAPI heritage. Start with the book list from Boston Public Library (scroll down for the link), and share something you’ve learned with your friends, family, and colleagues.
While celebrating heritage, let’s recognize that many members of our community have family and friends in India right now and are suffering stress, heartache, and grief due to the current wave of COVID-19 there. If you have a friend or colleague in this situation, don’t forget to reach out and give them your support during this extremely painful time, even if it’s just to check up and see how they are doing. We need to care for each other right now.
Muslims all over the world are today celebrating the last day of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday that celebrates the end of the fast for Ramadan. If you celebrate, have a wonderful Eid-al Fitr.
Congratulations to the class of 2021! You have finally done it and I look forward to celebrating your successes at the CICS Master’s & Doctoral Celebration and CICS Senior Celebration. You have been able to overcome the adversity that you experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020–2021 racial awakening. My hope is that you will always remember that you have the tenacity and motivation that it took to be successful during a global pandemic. Congratulations!
Erika Lynn Dawson Head, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development
College of Information and Computer Sciences, UMass Amherst
Ivon Arroyo

Faculty Spotlight: Ivon Arroyo

Ivon Arroyo, associate professor, specializes in the intersection of education and computer science, two areas she once obtained degrees in as a UMass student. She now teaches in both CICS and the College of Education, and chairs the Advanced Learning Technologies Lab.
Arroyo’s expertise is in the design of novel technologies for learning and assessment of K–12 students studying mathematics. “I love to create solutions for K–12 schools to help use the benefits of technology to improve education," she says. “Generally, teachers have their hands full with all that they have to do, and this learning technology can help support them.”
In addition to researching how computer science can be used to improve education in the classroom, Arroyo is also interested in ways to introduce computer science to a younger audience, with a focus on bringing young girls and minorities into the computer science pipeline. One of her current passion projects is Wearable Learning Cloud Platform (WLCP), a cloud-based eductional technology that teaches the computational thinking skills that are the precursors to computer science. WLCP "enables students to design educational games for mathematics and have them go through the whole design and programming process, and thinking process in particular, that is required for computer science.”
As a Hispanic woman, Arroyo hopes to help students see that minorities can have successful careers in computer science, and also hopes that her research serves as a good example of how computing can be used for the common good.
Outside of CICS, Arroyo enjoys spending her time with her two kids and doing yoga. “I just love to do yoga,” Arroyo says, “and since the pandemic I've been doing it absolutely every day. It has really helped me emotionally and physically. I'm a very physical person—I dance as a professional dancer and I used to teach Argentine Tango.”
Cover: The Magic Fish

Book Recommendations: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Boston Public Library has compiled a fantastic, multi-genre selection of recent releases which highlight current Asian American representation in print. Check out the list—including children's books, graphic novels, history, literature, and memoirs—and start reading!
Emma Anderson

Staff Spotlight: Emma Anderson

Emma Anderson, director of inclusive education and teaching support, came to UMass following a career in K–12 education focused on math and computer science. As an educator, she became invested in developing better methods for teaching, beginning with assessing her students' knowledge to find the most efficient way to help them learn. At CICS, Anderson teaches two courses and facilitates conversations with faculty about instructional methods.
“My philosophy of learning is that no one is the end-all-be-all expert,” says Anderson. “We should always be seeking multiple sources of information and multiple sources of learning. I have my own background, but other folks have backgrounds that might lend themselves more readily to certain situations.”
As we begin shifting to in-person classes in the fall, Anderson offers some important tips: have patience and grace for each other, and consider the idea that virtual meetings can still benefit us, even after a “return to normalcy.”
"None of us were used to being alone and isolated, but now none of us are used to being together—there may be more interpersonal conflicts as we return,” she says. “I hope that we continue to be aware of when being together in person serves us, and when it doesn’t.”
Outside of CICS, Anderson spends her time gardening with her partner Jak, a UMass alum, who spent a lot of time permaculture farming at the university. Jak shares their huge wealth of plant knowledge with Anderson and the many houseplants they have in their home in Greenfield.
“Watching things grow is such an amazing way to connect to life and the world and to ourselves,” says Anderson. “Gardening teaches me patience. When you think something looks dead, maybe it just needs some time. You think it’s not going to grow, but with time it does. Plants all need different things, just like people.”
Ebony O. McGee

Book Discussion Group and Lecture: Black, Brown, Bruised

In partnership with the College of Engineering, CICS is participating in a book discussion group and online webinar with Dr. Ebony O. McGee, author of the book Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation.
In her talk on May 25, Dr. McGee will share insight into her research on high-achieving, underrepresented racially minoritized students and faculty in STEM fields. The discussion will reflect a deep appreciation of what it means to be a STEMer of color and academically successful in contexts where people of color are few and negative beliefs about their ability and motivation persist—and "get down to the nitty gritty" of inclusive mentoring and instruction.
Before the talk, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in advance reading groups, with multiple meeting times available to provide opportunities for all to take part.
Learn more/register

Stride Faculty Fellowship

The Associate Provost for Equity and Inclusion invites your participation in a new one-year program aimed at advancing faculty diversity at UMass Amherst. The STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) Faculty Fellowship provides faculty with the opportunity to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in faculty recruitment.
No prior experience with STRIDE is necessary, only a commitment to promoting faculty diversity. STRIDE Faculty Fellows will:
  • Attend a half-day training session in late August 2021
  • Co-lead two two-hour STRIDE Workshops over the course of the academic year
  • Receive a $2,000 stipend
  • Continue engagement with STRIDE or other recruitment initiatives beyond the fellowship year
Learn more/register

Interactive Theater for Social Change: Bystander Intervention in the Virtual Classroom

This interactive theater workshop hosted by the College of Natural Sciences addresses conflicts rooted in racism, sexism, and social identities as they may appear in the student experience in our classrooms. Learn how to address privilege and intersecting identities in the classroom, and get strategies to de-escalate challenging conversations and interrupt microaggressions. This workshop is designed for faculty, staff, postdocs, and grad students. 
Tuesday, May 18, 10:00 a.m.–Noon

Interactive Theater for Social Change: Inclusion and Graduate School Mentoring

This interactive theater workshop hosted by the College of Natural Sciences addresses mentoring and unconscious bias in graduate school. The performance will provide the graduate mentor with tools for relationship building and effective communication. It will also address meeting the needs of graduate students of color, including identity and the cumulative impact of stereotypes and microaggressions. This workshop is designed for faculty and postdocs.
Thursday, May 20, 1:00–2:30 p.m.

Making the Invisible Visible: Exploring and Teaching the AAPI Experience

As America continues to confront acts of violence towards Asian-Americans, Facing History & Ourselves invites you to join activist and author Helen Zia, who became the spokesperson nearly 40 years ago for the campaign seeking justice for Vincent Chin, whose racist murder galvanized the Asian American movement. In this talk, she will explore historical and contemporary manifestations of anti-Asian hate and its intersection with white supremacy, as well as stories of resistance, perseverance, and pride within the AAPI community.
Thursday, May 27, 7:30 p.m.

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!
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