Growing up in a multicultural, mixed-religion home and being raised in an area that was just as eclectic as my own family, even just attending school every day enabled me to interact with people of several races, socioeconomic statuses, sexualities, and cultures. From the beginning, this has encouraged me to always be empathetic to the situations of others, and I feel that it has helped me grow as both a person and a leader. Coming to Georgia Tech has only expanded upon these experiences, as I have begun to work and live with people from all parts of the country and all over the world. In all of these encounters, I have relished the opportunities to learn as much as I can about my peers. As a Diversity Ambassador I hope to work towards making sure all Georgia Tech students gain as much from cultural exchange on this campus as I have!
Hello my name is Barry Johnson-Smith and I am a second year computer engineering student. I love to learn about people's different culture because through this you grow as a person and better understand the world around. Through understanding I learn to respect culture's different from me. That is why diversity is important to me. Exposing and teaching people different cultures allows them to respect the people of that culture. This creates an environment where people can express themselves without facing discrimination and injustices which is what I strive for on a daily basis.
Raised as a black child in impoverished neighborhoods on the Southside of Chicago to a single parent, I was always staunchly aware of the dim life the world would expect me to have. As I grew up and began understanding what it means to be a woman; I became aware of even more restrictions on what my life should look like. Further down the road, I finally had to accept that the piece of me that was attracted to women was not as small as I originally hoped. I tried to distance myself from this projected life by internalizing the expectations and finding ways why I was different from the person I was supposed to become. Even as a small child, there was some part of me that always felt the need to “stand up for the little guy”. It wasn’t until my freshman year at Georgia Tech that I finally realized, after a very harsh lecture about feminism from my childhood best friend, that I was perpetuating the very stereotypes that had hurt me so badly growing up. That year began my immersion into Social Justice, where that passion I’ve had since childhood to stand up for those who are put down could finally be realized. Diversity became important to me through realizing the only thing I am destined to do is fight fiercely for the justice of others. My name is Brandi Hill, and I am Georgia Tech.
My name is D’ Andre Michael Waller. I am a fourth year student working towards my Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in technology and management. I am from Hampton Georgia, located about 30 minutes south of Georgia Tech. One of the earliest lessons that I learned in life is that all people have intrinsic value to themselves. When I was younger, I was bitten on the right side of my face by a dog. As a 12-year-old boy, I thought my life was over, seeing only value in outward appearance or popularity. However, I soon discovered the true value of myself in my intelligence and passions. Education is a priority of mine, hence my matriculation at this prestigious institute. I came to Tech from Lovejoy High School on a full ride scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship Program. I have always valued leadership as well as personal relationships with people; however coming to Georgia Tech has changed a lot of my perceptions of the world around me. Coming to Tech from a predominantly black high school has given me a new appreciation for the diversity that comes from having effective relationships with people from all walks of life. Being involved in leadership at Tech has taught me that active leadership is at its best when it serves a bigger cause. “Progress and Service” are the most important goals of leadership. I am involved with the National Society of Black Engineers because I have a passion for helping minority students advance in STEAM fields. Getting involved in service initiatives such as the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration has given me a deeper appreciation for those who in the past a blazed a trail for those to follow. I work at OMED: Educational Services as a Team Coach, a mentor for first year students because I want to give back to the next generation of students who will come behind me. I plan to pursue a graduate degree and eventually move my passion and intelligence towards social entrepreneurship in order to help the community that I am affected by. I am D’ Andre Waller and I AM GEORGIA TECH.
I’m a 4th Year Business Administration major with a concentration in Information Technology Management. One of the main reasons I love all aspects of diversity is because of the common social assumptions and expectations that are often transformed due to a deeper understanding of what true diversity entails. Most people know based on my appearance that I am a Black female, but they do not see my deeper heritage and ethnicity from my father who is a Black Panamanian. Having my own appreciation for my diverse background has helped me to understand that breaking down barriers and forming opinions based on observance and reflection is essential in establishing a breeding ground for innovation and collaboration. When there is a discourse community that both accepts and appreciates diversity, there is no limit to what can be accomplished through this special meeting of the minds. When new ideas and ways of thinking are accepted, this inspires positive change; positive change that I believe will make the world a better place. This is what drives my motivation for diversity. This is what drives me. My name is Divad Miles and I, too, am Georgia Tech.
I’m a 2nd year Computer Science major from Greece, and exploring diversity is one of my passions. Born in Nashville TN, I moved to Greece when I was 3 and stayed there until I graduated High School. Apart from coding and developing apps, I love basketball, Krav Maga, playing the guitar and travelling. Aside from Diversity Ambassadors, some of my other involvements at Georgia Tech include the Training Manager position for Robogals, Grand Challenges, and Women at College of Computing, organizations that help me promote and learn more about diversity. Moving from Greece to the US, I got to experience a lot of cultural differences which I get to share with other students here through activities like Pride Parade and Holi Fest. Also being a female in Computer Science got me passionate about promoting diversity in STEM fields and encouraging minorities to try the field of technology. My goal as a diversity ambassador is to begin conversation about diversity, raise awareness about its importance and encourage people to not let their identity of being minorities stop them from achieving their dreams. My name is Elsa Perakis and I’m Georgia Tech.
I am a Muslim Pakistani American. Growing up, it was easy to feel like the “other” or the “outsider” of a group. There were times where I would try to hide the fact that I was from Pakistan or I would try to hide the fact that I was Muslim. When I got older, I started wearing the hijab and although I was not ashamed of it, there was no way to hide the fact that I was Muslim. I learned to embrace my identities and today I can proudly say I have found the strength to be who I am unapologetically. There are still days where people will attempt to insult me due to the fact that I am Muslim, but I have enough people supporting me that those voices of hatred are murmurs behind the strong sirens of love I feel from others. Every single person in our society deserves to be unapologetically who they are and deserves to feel worthy knowing that there are people supporting them. I never want anyone to feel like they have to hide from their identity or feel like they have to apologize for who they are. That is why diversity is important to me. I want everyone to be accepted and treated with respect. My name is Fatima Jamil, and I AM Georgia Tech.
Hello, my name is Gregory Williams, and I am a third-year Computer Science major. My hometown is Goldsboro, North Carolina, and I was born and raised there my entire life. In my free time I enjoy sports, listening to music, and generally just having a good time. I believe diversity is important because it helps to strengthen social interacting skills, enhance self-awareness, broaden perspectives, and offer insight into the different experiences of others. I am active with a number of organizations on campus, but of all of them, the Diversity Ambassador program is one of my favorites. Serving as a Diversity Ambassador presents me with an incredible opportunity to help facilitate my passion for diversity and work towards the enhancement of awareness, comfort, and social interaction on our campus. Georgia Tech is a great school with an extraordinary amount of exceptional students and I believe there is an inconceivable opportunity for more progress in diversity. I am excited for what is to come in the future!
My name is Isabella Dolor and I am third year psychology major. My passion for diversity stems from my longstanding love for people and for knowing and serving others. I place such a high value on a person's story - about what brought them to where and who they are today. Growing up as a Filipino American with a distant family, I wasn't really able to connect with my own culture until very recently. Instead, I found myself aspiring to be an ally to other communities. During Black History Month while I was in elementary school, I remember watching a video about MLK and feeling such abhorrence at the overt discrimination, prejudice, and racism that existed not at all long ago. Seeing the hurt in others hurt me. This experience led me to open my eyes to the bias and oppression still existing in the world at a young age. This awareness has only continued to grow into seeing how society treats each marginalized group and has shaped me into the individual that aims to advocate for social justice today. I have recently found avenues in which to channel my passion for others and what each person has to bring to the table. In addition to my involvement as a Diversity Ambassador, I also work to serve others through Student Government Association's Cultural and Diversity Affairs Committee, my position as a Student Staff Member, and my position as a Peer Coach. My other involvements include working as a Challenge Counselor through OMED, a FASET Leader to help facilitate the transition into Tech for incoming students, and raising funds and awareness for the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta through Georgia Tech's For the Kids Family Relations committee. I aim to serve campus as a Diversity Ambassador by promoting an inclusive campus not only through my actions and my words, but also through my involvements and life choices. I truly believe in the sentiment that we are better together and I want to continue making strides to work towards this sentiment.
As an Army Brat, I've gotten the chance to live in drastically different places around the nation. I was born and raised in an all-black community in Decatur, GA until I was 9, and then due to my father's military orders, I moved to an all-white community in Colorado, Springs, CO. From there, my family moved to the extremely diverse town of Gainseville, VA, a place which there were 23 languages spoken in my high school alone. The differences in culture, history, and lifestyles between each place has deeply influenced the person I am today and has made me much more aware of the world around me. I now keep an open mind and look forward to any opportunity I have to interact with someone who is different form me in any way, in hopes of learning something new. I have learned that the differences between us all should not drive us apart, but should be celebrated and used as a means to bring us all together. I am excited to be a Diversity Ambassador and get a chance to pioneer the celebration of diversity here at Georgia Tech.
Hello, everyone! I’m a fourth year Biomedical Engineering major from Cincinnati, OH. I grew up in Singapore, a young country which celebrates four national languages and honors the range of cultural and religious backgrounds which it hosts. The 15 years I spent there have made it easier for me to see that people can come together because of our differences, and not in spite of them. “Diversity” is a term that is increasingly thrown around in the current age. Firms and corporations all over the world are striving to achieve “diversity” in the workplace, the Hollywood film industry is failing by the estimation of many to represent “diversity” in its casting decisions, and top-tier schools across the nation are dealing with a “diversity” problem. Now, more than ever before, is the time for us to understand our role in defining diversity and take action to ensure that Georgia Tech is part of the solution. My name is Ryan Dunn, and I am Georgia Tech.
I am a third year Computer Engineering major at Georgia Tech. I have lived all over the United States, from near Washington, D.C., to Iowa, to Gainesville, Florida, but my family has lived in Lilburn, Georgia for the past five years. After finishing my B.S. in Computer Engineering, I plan to go to graduate school at Georgia Tech under the Bioengineering program, so that I can apply Electrical and Computer Engineering principles to developing treatments and medical devices for people with serious health conditions. I am the President of Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I am bisexual, intersex, and non-binary (please use they/them pronouns when referring to me). I believe diversity is a vital part of a healthy society, and that social justice should be a priority for any institution. I believe the quality of a society or a community is best judged by looking at how its most vulnerable and disadvantaged members are treated. I hope to use the Diversity Ambassador position to better learn how best to improve the society I live in.