By Madisyn Caldwell
Editor: Katie Williams
Hadiya Watson is a junior at Oakland University who is working on her nursing degree and soon to be a double minor in business and entrepreneurship. She is currently a historian of the ALD Honor Society and a Dancer on Intrigue Hip Hop Dance Team.
She is involved in many activities on the side and wants to encourage her and her peers to find a better version of themselves. During her time period at Oakland University, she’s experienced a lot of different changes when it comes to diversity and inclusion describing them as a “culture shock.”
MC: What is diversity to you? What is inclusion to you? What do they mean to you?
Watson: To me, diversity is the ability to be inclusive. It has a variety of inclusion, which is the act of working together with others; from race, ethnicity, and gender, to intersectionality and commonalities. Intersectionality and commonalities are two important words to me, because being able to diversify yourself and be inclusive amplifies your character as a person, and your open mindedness.
MC: How has diversity and/or inclusion on OU’s campus shaped your growth as an individual?
Watson: Diversity and inclusion at OU have shaped me so much as an individual. I grew up around the majority of people that looked and thought like me, among other things like being African American. However, once I started to attend OU, I had a major culture shock moment. There were people on campus from different ethnicities to different backgrounds or even from different countries.
But over the past three years I have learned to work with and be around individuals that are different from me in regards to race, ethnicity, and even religion. It has shaped me to be open to a much bigger picture that I didn’t necessarily know existed since I was usually surrounded by my own norm.
MC: Where do you feel most comfortable and/or safe in expressing your identity on campus? Where do you feel you belong on campus?
Watson: When on campus, I feel most comfortable around people I share at least one common thing with. For example, dance, I feel safe expressing myself around others that dance along with me, as well as being involved in the many other hobbies and niches I hold.
Dance is the one way I can feel free within myself and I’m always happy to express my passion towards it to other people on and off campus. It really makes me feel as though I belong within the community of OU because here, we can all express our talents free of judgement.
MC: If you could (or improve) one thing about the world, what would it be?
Watson: If I could change one thing or improve one thing about the world, I think that it would be moving towards the elimination of ignorance around us. I believe that if we were all teaching one another more, rather than letting pure ignorance slide past, the world would be somewhat better.
What I mean by that is some people have a tendency to be prejudiced and not open to learn about other people’s lives and opinions toward certain situations, decisions, and reactions.
When it comes to the riots that went on for George Floyd, everyone wanted, and knew his voice needed, to be heard. To many, it wasn’t right that police were getting away with it. The people of our community and all around the U.S. wanted to see a change, something being done about it because it wasn’t fair that men and women’s lives were being affected by the very people we are supposed to look upon to be safe.
Justice should never depend on a specific race, ethnicity, or background but that’s the world we reside in today unfortunately.