Freddy Garcia is the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement at Marist College in New York. His role is to promote inclusion amongst all constituents of the college and to teach others how to really listen with curiosity, openness, and compassion. He joins me today to discuss how he got into this role, what he has seen change in diversity and inclusion over the recent years, and the challenges we are facing now more than ever. We also talk about ways Marist College inspires people to pay attention and take action, and ways we can both honor our differences and find common ground at the same time.
[3:57] Freddy was born and raised in the South Bronx of New York City and moved up north to attend Marist College. A first-generation United States citizen, he was also the first in his family to attend college. His family set expectations high by displaying a hard work ethic. Freddy got a job right out of college working in diversity and has stayed intrigued with how deeply it benefits others when you create a culture of understanding and inclusion.
[9:02] In the past decade, Marist college has doubled the amount of non-white attendees. That number went from 13.3% in 2008 to 22.9% in 2018.
[11:43] We tend to stick with what we know and what seems familiar. However, there is much to be gained from branching out. When we ask questions from a place of curiosity, we can find common ground, despite having differences.
[15:57] Freddy’s role as the Special Assistant to the President for Diversity Inclusion and Community Engagement is a Cabinet Leader position that holds a lot of responsibility. It is Freddy’s role to work with faculty, staff, and students of all types to support diversion and inclusion from a place of innovation at every step of the way.
[18:14] It all comes down to people. None of us are experts in what we don’t know about others, but real change happens we try to listen and understand.
[26:24] We must first look inside ourselves to get to know where we stand in the conversation of diversity, and from there we can affect others. We also must realize not everyone engages and discovers their “Oh! I get it!” moment the same way, and inclusion is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
[39:20] It is both a heart-based and business-oriented choice for institutions to be at the forefront of this topic.
[43:38] To use a sports metaphor, when we build a team based on the strengths and unique abilities of individuals, the entire team wins.