Please tell us about yourself.
Namaste. My name is Rani (pronounced “Ronnie”) and I was born in India then adopted when I was 14 months old. I grew up in Morris, Minn., and graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota, Morris. I published research about gender stereotypes in sports and then went on to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership with an emphasis in student affairs. I hope to earn my doctorate in education at some point and focus on Third Culture Kids, conditional admits, and adult learners. On a more personal side, I love the Green Bay Packers, enjoy weightlifting, and am a cotton candy connoisseur. I also have two cats named Middleton and Radford.
What does your role entail and how long have you been in this position?
I started as the diversity support coordinator in the Center for Student Success in July 2020. I support the success of students from diverse identities (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) and serve as a resource and advocate for students on campus. I also specifically work with two scholarship cohorts, Act Six and CAS. When I am not meeting one on one with students, I am part of a few committees on campus and meet with different offices to help serve the needs of our students.
How do you help first-year students transition into their life at Concordia?
College is a big transition and can be quite stressful when you’re navigating a new life change. My work in the Center for Student Success is to provide students with tools so they feel more confident and successful in their courses. One way I do this is by providing learning strategies, study schedules, and resources (tutoring and writing center). Because student engagement is important, I try to help students get connected to the different offices we have on campus (Counseling Center, Career Center, and Student Engagement). More specific to the BIPOC community, I will work directly with them on their experiences of being a person of color on a predominantly white campus.
What’s your favorite part of your role?
I really enjoy creating meaningful relationships with the students I work with, specifically seeing their growth from first semester to second semester. I also enjoy the culture in my office and feel very supported by my colleagues.
What are your favorite aspects of working at Concordia?
I really enjoy working with my colleagues in the Center for Student Success because they have been great mentors to me. Since day one, everyone has been so welcoming to me and I’ve enjoyed connecting with a new student population. Concordia reminds me of my alma mater, UMM, because both are small liberal arts colleges and I appreciate feeling a piece of “home” with me. I also love when students see me around campus and wave or stop by my office for snacks. However, hands down, Taco in a Bag in DS is my favorite.
What are some of the cultural- and identity-based student organizations at Concordia?
We have 60+ active student organizations and many are identity-based or focused on multiculturalism. We have the Black Student Union, Djembe (a student-run literary magazine), Latinx Organization for Achievement, Asian Student Association, International Student Organization, and many more.
In what ways is Concordia working toward diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Concordia had a fall workshop about “excellence through diversity” and, as a POC, it was refreshing to see the dedication being put toward DEI work. I presented with a colleague about Third Culture Kids and how we can help support and retain students. Concordia also has Implicit Bias Training, which is another step toward bringing awareness to the injustices that take place in the world. Our office continues to strive toward diversity, equity, and inclusion through diversity training for our subject tutors and writing center tutors. I recently applied for the Inclusive Teaching and Diversity Leadership Certificate that the Office of Diversity and Academic Affairs is offering. I am fairly confident that more work will be done in the coming months and years.
What are you most proud of in your work since starting as the diversity support coordinator?
I am proud of the “Tired” project I did with the BIPOC students in Fall 2020. It was a great opportunity to acknowledge the diversity we have on campus. The BIPOC students on campus are wonderful about advocating for themselves and I enjoy seeing them fight for what is right.
What are some goals you have for the future in regard to your role?
I would love to have one event each semester that is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Create an atmosphere that allows students of color to feel like they belong.
Improve the representation of underrepresented populations.
Invite guest speakers to campus to speak about their experiences of being a person of color and the work that they do.
What advice would you give to current and incoming students?
Get involved — that was something I regretted not doing as an undergrad. However, it motivated me to be more involved during my graduate program. If you’re a new student at Concordia (first-year, transfer, international), take advantage of Orientation. I thought I knew everything about UMM and skipped a lot of the sessions and activities (learn from me and don’t do the same thing). As I said before, Concordia and UMM are similar and the ability to connect with your professors one on one is wonderful. Take advantage of office hours — your professor wants you to come and ask them questions. And, of course, visit our office — the Center for Student Success — we’re pretty cool.
What do you enjoy about the Fargo-Moorhead area?
Hands down, the India Palace in Fargo. My significant other and I are definitely frequent visitors. I live by a few parks and walking paths, so I enjoy taking 5-mile walks in the summer. I also like that if the Target in Moorhead doesn’t have something, I can just drive over the river to the Target in Fargo.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I hope you decide to take your educational journey to Concordia College. We care deeply about our students and will set you up for success.
Published November 2021