Interview with D'Andre Fisher
PTK Honor Society is happy to welcome D’Andre Fisher, our new Associate Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to North and caught an interview with him to find out more about his work on campus.
What life event was a catalyst in your decision to become an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion?
That’s a great question, I don’t know if it was specifically a life event but just my pure existence. As a self-identified African-American male in today’s society, I think you have no choice but to be in this work or do this work because you have to speak for so many voices that are unheard. Unfortunately, I don’t get the chance to take off being a male, or take off being black, or take off being someone who identifies with religious freedoms, or take off being someone who identifies with the LGBTQ + community. I don’t get to remove that on an everyday basis; I have to wear that every day. So this work for me is my life. It’s just my everyday, it’s just my pure existence in a room, me walking into a space where I can be the only one of that person in that space.
What is one of the most fulfilling aspects of your work?
Knowing that I’ve helped a student, a faculty, or a staff member who felt like they didn’t have a voice. Knowing that I’ve helped them really navigate through an experience, that they felt maybe unappreciated, they felt maybe harmed, or they felt like they did not have a voice or a seat at the table. That’s the most rewarding aspect, just seeing the liberation of so many communities.
Can you share with us a single action we could do in our day to make our community a safer and more respectful place?
I think so many times in Higher Ed institutions, we tend to forget that they’re educational spaces. We need to start educating ourselves on different communities, on different populations, because the notion of getting away with saying or doing things, with microaggressions, and it being “Oh, I didn’t know” - that’s unacceptable now. And it has been unacceptable and it’s unacceptable even more so now because we should educate ourselves on what it means to help and be an ally for a veteran. What it means to help and be an ally for a student with a disability. What does that look like? And you should educate yourself and not expect the population or the community to educate you.
How do you facilitate and promote discussions where everyone’s voice is heard respectfully?
The first step is to create a sense of belonging for everyone, to create a sense of “this space being really safe,” and most importantly to create a space where dialogue – respectful dialogue is the key – could happen. And how you do that is understanding and sit out in the front to say: “We will have different views, we will have different opinions, and that’s ok.” But how do we respectfully come to some type of halfway, medium, or some type of middle ground, where I can walk away and say “I heard you, I may not agree with you, but I heard you”?
Gender and identity have been strongly tied together for a long time, do you think we might be on our way towards a future where the two are completely separated, or do you think it’s impossible to have one without the other?
Social identity, whether that’s in gender, whether that’s in class, whether that’s mental health (we don’t talk about our mental health) – all of these are identities that people have to walk with every day. Like I said in the beginning, “I can’t take off one identity without being the other.” One identity may show itself as prevalent more in our lives, but we are who we are, we identify by how we identify. Whether that’s an identification that we have grown into, whether that’s an identification that we were born with, whatever that may be, or whether that’s an identity that we’ve educated ourselves more on – I think it is very, very important that we acknowledge that everybody has different identities. For us to try and put one identity against the other can be problematic in many ways.
Are there any exciting upcoming events or opportunities where students can learn more about equity, diversity, and inclusion that you can share with us?
We have the food bank that happens every Wednesday. We have multiple events that I hope that our office – the EDI office – is going to start promoting and letting the campus know about more and more on how to get involved and how to make sure that their voices are heard on campus. And for sure, once a month we will have an open dialogue discussing critical topics around diversity and inclusion, so be on the lookout for that. We’re excited!
Chapter Advisor Michaelann Allen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chapter President Veronica Carpenter: email@example.com
Chapter Vice President of Leadership
Scarlett Nguyen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact us if you have any questions via Canvas, via Facebook or talk to us at chapter meetings!
This quarter, we hold weekly meetings in the Baxter Event Center (CC1349A) every Tuesday from 2:30 - 3:30 PM.
Come by to join us if you have any questions on writing successful scholarship applications or volunteer opportunities to make our community a better place!
Healthcare Technology Management Changes Curriculum
The HTM (Healthcare Technology Management Program): BioMedical Equipment Technology program is a 2-year curriculum that trains students to repair the equipment in hospitals such as MRI and X-Ray machines, as well as bedside equipment for patients. This year, North Seattle College is making changes from the previous curriculum. The course AMA 119 (Survey of Human Anatomy and Physiology) is being dropped, and will be replaced by AMA117 (Introduction to Medical Vocabulary). AMA117 has increased its credit number from 3 credits to 5 credits, and will include the information from the previous AMA 119 course.
Consider this great program for your career path!
Kristy Go, Student Cabinet Member
Welcome to Fall Quarter
This is your PTK Chapter President Veronica. I hope you have had a great start to your quarter. PTK had an awesome first meeting – here are some of the highlights:
- We have been hearing a lot from active chapter members who are eager to volunteer and enrich the community. If this sounds like you, there are many opportunities available (like doing Reading Time with middle school students at local schools) and upcoming (we're working on a collaboration with English faculty that would bring enthusiastic English speakers into ESL classrooms to help ESL students to help them gain invaluable conversational skills). For more information on how you can help please contact our chapter advisor Michaelann.Allen@seattlecolleges.edu).
- Its scholarship season and we are here to help you be the most competitive applicant! To give you the resources you need to succeed we are hosting five scholarship info/help sessions between October and November. Bring writing materials, questions, and personal statements/applications-in-progress and get help from former scholarship recipients and faculty! Feel free to attend as many or as few of these sessions as you want; the material covered will be dependent on audience needs.
- Tuesday October 9th 2:30: 3:30 in CC1439A Baxter Events Center
- Saturday October 13th 1: 2:00 in HS 1637A Student Learning Center Conference Room
- Wednesday October 17th 2:30: 3:30 in HS 1637A Student Learning Center Conference Room
- Tuesday October 30th 2:30: 3:30 in CC1439 Baxter Events Center
- Wednesday November 7th 2:30: 3:30 in HS 1637A Student Learning Center Conference Room
- Chapter meetings this quarter are on Tuesdays 2:30-3:30 in CC1439A Baxter Events Center! Anyone can attend and get involved!
- Chapter President Veronica attended Phi Theta Kappa's Honors Institute 2018, and she will share the knowledge and material covered in a series of announcements this quarter. Keep an eye on our Canvas announcements!
Meet Your New Student Body President!
Two weeks ago, I marked my one year anniversary of living in the United States. With the exception of a slight hiccup where I changed my name and gender and moved across the country, I spent my whole life pretty much doing what I was supposed to. I was always nice to my little sister. I got As in high school. I finished college in four years, graduated with a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Argentina. I’d been tutoring peers and younger students since high school, but the jump to classroom teaching felt like a big one.
And it went fine! I worked with good-natured adult students who were taking night classes to work in tourism, or to become English teachers themselves. They gave me advice on where to get the cheapest bootleg photocopies of our textbooks. They brought electric kettles to class on wintry nights when the lack of windowpanes had us all shivering, and they liked me enough to give me an advance heads-up when virtually the entire class was planning to skip school to avoid an in-class discussion.
As my yearlong grant came to a close, I looked ahead to the next step. A private school in Eastern Turkey was willing to hire me and even pay my airfare. I, a coveted native speaker, would teach “fun” English to eight, nine and ten year olds. I accepted, and kept accepting. Over the course of the next three years, my teaching career would span Turkey, Mexico, and Mongolia. Everywhere I went, I met amazing people. They helped me to register phones, take buses, and open bank accounts, taught me to play instruments and milk goats and cook, called me grandson and nephew and friend.
I had a good, stable job, and loved ones all over the world. But by the end of my fifth year abroad, I just wanted to do something else. As the long Mongolian winter set in, lesson planning became the most exhausting chore imaginable. I loved my students, but I could barely drag myself to class. On top of it all, I was having trouble getting a Mongolian visa, and the possibility of deportation weighed constantly on my mind. And then suddenly winter was over. I had made it through the year, and the first thing I thought was, “I don’t want to live out of a suitcase anymore.”
And so, one year and fourteen days ago, I came home. I was sitting around waiting to hear back about jobs I’d applied for, when I happened to think, “You know, I’d really like to take a printmaking class.” …which is how I found my way to North. It’s funny. I’ve loved art my whole life. My sixth grade math teacher once threatened to take points off my homework if I didn’t stop filling every millimeter of margin space with doodles. But until recently, I never considered the possibility of pursuing art in any serious way. I had plenty of excuses: “I don’t want to take the fun out of it”; “My stuff isn’t very polished”; “Art isn’t practical.” Taking an art class felt more daunting than deciding to hop on a plane and move someplace I’d never seen.
But somehow one printmaking class became a quarter of printmaking, drawing, digital art, and sculpture. And by the third week of school, I was introducing myself as an art major. All those years working abroad, I’d convinced myself that I moved every ten months because I wanted to keep exploring. But I was also running away. It was easier to reinvent myself year after year than have to actually decide who I wanted to be. Above all, I was paralyzed by one big question: what would happen if I tried for the one thing I deeply loved, and it ended in catastrophic failure?
One year and fourteen days later, the best answer I’ve come up with is: you’d find another way. Now that sounds obvious, but “setbacks happen, and sometimes there’s no way around them” is not the sort of conclusion I could have reached on my own, floundering through something terrifying in isolation. But because I spent the past year at North Seattle College, because I’ve finally been brave enough to put down roots, I have friends and mentors who have stood by me. Their support has fortified me against the inevitability of failure. The future is never certain, and I know I’m not the only person in this room doing something that scares me, but I also know my connection to the NSC community will last long
after my graduation. Looking around, I see resilience. I see people who have persevered, who—in spite of illness, racism, doubt, discrimination, economic pressure, pain, or fatigue—have given so much of themselves to make North what it is. It is an immense privilege to be a part of this community. Thank you so much for everything you have done, and everything you continue to do, and I wish you all the very best for the coming year.