Happy St. Patrick's Day :: You Belong @ CICS
Happy St. Patrick's Day :: You Belong @ CICS
You Belong At CICS: Diversity & Inclusive Community Newsletter
Erika Lynn Dawson Head

Reflections on St. Patrick's Day and a Year of Pandemic

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! If you don’t celebrate the holiday, my hope is that you also have an amazing day. St. Patrick was a Christian and his date of death is celebrated in the United States and abroad. It has traditionally been a time when we come together to celebrate Irish culture and people in our world. From the 1820s through the 1930s, millions of people of Irish heritage migrated to America as a result of famine in their home country. In America, people of Irish heritage faced biases and persecution, but gradually systems and laws were put in place that reinforced their acceptance into society. See the resources below to learn more about Irish history and discuss this information with others.
This March we have reached an important milestone. A year ago, we were all affected by the emergence of COVID-19 and began a year filled with traumatic and hopeful experiences. My hope is that you will consider this your personal one-year check-in. How are you doing and feeling? How are things at home? Academically, are you doing well and able to reach your goals? If you don't think you are doing well or just want someone to talk to, staff and faculty are here for you—just let us know what you need.
Support Resources:
Learning Resources About Irish History:
Erika Lynn Dawson Head, Director of Diversity and Inclusive Community Development
College of Information and Computer Sciences, UMass Amherst
Icon: Power button

Reboot 2.0: Optimize Your Efficiency

Join our new “Reboot” groups for undergraduates and graduates/postdocs to build closer relationships with others, 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. Please register by March 20, 2021—meeting dates and times will be based on participant availability:
Timoty Nguyen

Community Profile:
Timothy Nguyen, BUILD

The BUILD student organization serves as a “technical consulting group that works to provide nonprofits, startups, and local businesses access to software development, web development, and an overall boost in their technological processes.” The group has two major goals: 1) help students grow their skills professionally, and 2) give back to the community by providing web and mobile solutions to organizations in need.
Timothy Nguyen, a junior majoring in computer science and statistics, serves as part of the leadership team and as a tech lead. He says that BUILD is interested in recruiting students “from all different types of backgrounds ... people who are really interested in learning new things, have lots of passion for our mission, and can bring their skills to the table.”
This past semester, BUILD has been working with three local organizations to develop their web and mobile apps: the UMass Entrepreneurship Club, the Yerli, and OpenThink. In the future, Nguyen and BUILD members are hoping to extend their services to support more local organizations that lack the funds, personnel, and expertise to develop their own web and mobile solutions.
After graduating, Nguyen hopes to use his experiences from BUILD to further his interest in software development, and possibly found his own start-up.
Group photo: BUILD
Cover: My Grandmother's Hands

My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem

Looking for a book recommendation? Try My Grandmother's Hands, an examination by Resmaa Menakem of the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.
The body, Menakem explains, is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues the damage of racism will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies.
Victoria Okoro

Student Spotlight: 
Victoria Okoro, Hack(H)er413

Victoria Okoro, a junior majoring in informatics with a concentration in data science, serves as the head of diversity and inclusion for Hack(H)er413, where she is in charge of outreach to diversity and inclusivity organizations. She appreciates the opportunity to be part of a student-run initiative that inspires young women to pursue careers in tech.
Outside of CICS, Okoro is part of Rewriting the Code, which she describes as “a fellowship for women to network with other women in the tech industry and learn about different opportunities.”
In her free time, Okoro enjoys playing video games, reading manga, and watching anime. Someday, she hopes to travel to Japan to visit its temples and shrines. She was recently featured in the student-led Humans of CICS project on Instagram—view her post.
Ben Conrick

Staff Spotlight: Ben Conrick

Ben Conrick, academic advisor for CICS, has been with the college since 2018. Serving as the advisor for the Information Technology Program, he works with students who are enrolled in the IT minor. He also advises CICS exploratory track students and computer science majors.
Conrick is proud to work for the IT Program. “The program brings a diversity of thought and approaches to technology,” he says. “It’s really enlightening to work with professionals and academics on the IT Program steering committee, discussing technology and computing with representatives from areas on campus including the Library, Isenberg School of Management, Humanities and Fine Arts, and the Five College Consortium.”
Since the pandemic started, Conrick has not had a haircut, joking that “sometimes in Zoom meetings I’m hesitant to turn on my camera after my old CICS profile picture shows up. It’s like before and after the zombie apocalypse. Not to mention the beard.” He has recently bought a house, which has been the focus of his life outside of CICS, and enjoys reading, music, movies, craft beer, and exercise.

Math at Top Speed: Exploring and Breaking Myths in the Drag Racing Folklore

In this special presentation, Richard Tapia uses his mathematical training to answer the following two basic questions from the drag racing folklore: 1) How does a “slow” car beat a “fast” car? 2) What does the dragster acceleration profile really look like? The study of the first question leads to The Fundamental Theorem of Drag Racing.
Wednesday, March 17, 6:30pm

bias Film Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker Robin Hauser

If you're human, you're biased. Now what? bias, the new film by award-winning documentary filmmaker Robin Hauser, challenges us to confront our hidden biases and understand what we risk when we follow our gut. Through exposing her own biases, she highlights the nature of implicit bias, the grip it holds on our social and professional lives, and what it will take to induce change.
Thursday, March 18, Noon–2:00pm

Attorney Extraordinaire Wendy Murphy: From Suffrage to Equality — Where Are We Really?

In the late 1800s, women were excluded from important constitutional amendments, including the right to vote and the right to equal protection of the law. The fight to establish these rights for women began almost immediately, but it would take decades before women won the right to vote, and women have yet to win full equal protection rights. How did we get here and where are we now?
Tuesday, March 23, 12:15pm

ADVANCE Annual Lecture: Science in the Time of COVID and America’s Reckoning with Race

The disruptions brought on by the pandemic have forced colleges and universities to work differently. How can our reimagining lead to greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine? Join UMass ADVANCE and Dr. Shirley Malcom, senior advisor and director of SEA Change at the American Association for the Advancement of Science for this ADVANCE Annual Lecture.
Wednesday, March 24, 4:00–6:00pm
Communications Department Annual Lecture: Safiyfa Noble
The UMass Amherst Communication Department 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 
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

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

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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