Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Coalition

Welcome to the David C. Frederick Honors College (FHC) Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) webpage, where we celebrate a rich tapestry of perspectives. Our IDEA coalition, comprised of dedicated FHC staff, faculty, and students, actively works towards fostering an inclusive community. 

Join us on a journey committed to IDEA principles, where collaboration and understanding thrive. Explore the unique stories that shape FHC's diverse community and discover how we champion equity and accessibility in every facet of academic life.

The Frederick Honors College (FHC) Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) coalition represents a pivotal aspect of FHC's commitment to fostering an inclusive and equitable environment. Rooted in the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, the JEDI initiative is an embodiment of our dedication to these values, ensuring they permeate every facet of the FHC experience. 

Central to the IDEA coalition is the IDEA Committee, a diverse group comprising students, faculty, and staff. This committee plays a crucial role in guiding and implementing IDEA -related activities and policies within the college. The involvement of students alongside faculty and staff in the committee underscores the college's approach of inclusive decision-making and collaborative effort. 

The IDEA Committee's responsibilities include developing strategies to enhance inclusivity in the curriculum, promoting a school culture that respects and celebrates diversity, and ensuring equitable access to opportunities for all members of the FHC community. They also engage in continuous dialogue and action to address and rectify systemic inequalities within the college environment. 

Additionally, this webpage serves as a resource hub, offering information on relevant programs, events, and initiatives. We will also feature educational materials, updates on the committee's progress, and opportunities for community involvement in IDEA-related activities. 

Major goals of our IDEA Committee include: 

  • Surveying to discover what IDEA topics are important to our Frederick Honors students and how to further elevate their work into lasting social change. 
  • Creating and implementing equitable practices for FHC events. 
  • Connecting individuals to professional development IDEA resources and networks.

Meet the IDEA Committee

Ron Idoko, co-chair
Ron Idoko

Director of Social Innovation in Honors Education

Candace Sinclair
Candace Sinclair, co-chair

Administrative Assistant for Social Innovation in Honors Education

Candace's personal DEI statement

Candace's decision to join the IDEA coalition was deeply influenced by her background experience from her undergraduate days. She enrolled in a course, Written Professional Communication: Topics in Diversity, which proved to be a pivotal learning journey. Throughout the course, Candace was immersed in the nuanced exploration of professional communication methods and the complexities of workplace diversity. Through rigorous inquiry and analysis, she gained a comprehensive understanding of how power imbalances and unequal distribution of privilege manifest across various dimensions such as race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, religion, and class in professional settings.  

By delving into topics like discrimination in hiring and employment practices, Candace learned to articulate her own diversity in professional documents and address discriminatory issues effectively. Her experience in the course not only heightened her awareness of systemic inequalities but also equipped her with practical skills to advocate for inclusivity and equity. Motivated by her transformative learning journey, Candace was driven to join the IDEA coalition, where she could actively contribute to creating positive change and fostering a more inclusive environment in all professional spheres.

Deborah Golden
Deborah Golden

FHC Academic Advisor

Deborah's personal DEI statement

I am deeply interested in and have engaged in numerous trainings on anti-racist pedagogy, intersectional lenses, disrupting exclusive teaching practices, and creating more intellectually and physically inclusive learning spaces for all students and community members. Prior to arriving at FHC, I worked with middle and high school students for 12 years and always tried to foreground DEI in learning, practices, and content. My passions also include body trust and dismantling systemic weight-based injustice; building systems to support queer youth both inside and outside of schools; and providing and promoting education about Jewish history and culture to prevent and contest anti-Semitism. 

Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) in FHC: From my perspective, the work of the FHC DEAI committee is to center, promote, broaden, and deepen the FHC’s commitment to social justice, inclusivity, accessibility, and equity. As an institution, the FHC is already clear in its mission to be a space where all learners feel heard, welcome, supported, and uplifted. The work ahead of us will be to clarify and spotlight ways to walk out this mission. I’m particularly interested in working to ensure that students with identities that are traditionally marginalized are intentionally welcomed into FHC and supported throughout their Honors College experience. I’m also especially excited to work with students to create lasting social change.

Jarrod Lovelace
Jarrod Lovelace

Manager of Recruitment

Jarrod's personal DEI statement

Education has been the most consistent presence in my life outside of my immediate family. I have always believed in the idea that “We the People in order to form a more perfect Union…” means that no idea is truly baseless, but only those that protect all the people who seek to make this country better should be tested and put into practice.  I was a teacher for 5 years at the high school and middle school level. I’ve gone through numerous training activities involving implementation of DEI into the educational setting, anti-racist discussions and training, and I’d like to continue to learn and be a part of the transformative dialogue that helps people understand why our differences, and our experiences all have value. 

Education and the opportunity to learn about anything, and everything is the great equalizer that every person should have access to as a tool to achieve their individual goals and improve the human connection. Honors students exist everywhere, in every community, amongst every family and they simply need to know how to find their calling. No student should be denied by societal structures an experience where they can be welcomed, challenged, and find a means to pursue personal growth across a spectrum of possibilities.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential pieces in building and sustaining a more perfect Union of people and government of the people by the people and for the people of the United States. There are so many examples of DEI principles, and practices riddled throughout this country’s history, with almost as many counters to the idea of DEI. I believe that the Frederick Honors College fosters an environment of inclusivity and can present non-bias access to the true practice and execution of equitable practices, among its diverse population of students, to then use in their future life’s work.

Lauren Rajasenan
Lauren Rajasenan

Frederick Honors College Student

Lauren's personal DEI statement

Lauren Rajasenan is a first-year student at the University of Pittsburgh Frederick Honors College and is excited by the opportunity to be a member of its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She hopes to major in Politics and Philosophy with a co-major in International Studies, a minor in Chemistry, and a certificate in Human Rights and Social Justice. Outside of the classroom, Lauren was a member of her high school’s Model UN and Speech and Debate teams, student council, and Dignity and Respect committee. She has also worked with the nonprofit High Reliability Organization Council throughout their efforts in assisting Ukraine. At Pitt, she hopes to get involved in clubs such as the Pitt ACLU, Feminist Empowerment Movement, Multiracial Student Association, and the Pitt American Cancer Society. Lauren became passionate about social justice at a young age and hopes to utilize her role as a Dei committee member to begin remedying important issues of equity and inclusion on Pitt’s campus. In the future, she hopes to continue her work with social justice by pursuing a JD and working in civil rights law. She hopes to bring the perspective of a current student to the table and ensure that all members of the Pitt community feel represented and valued.

Attending a small school that lacked diversity growing up, I did not have many friends or role models that could relate to my experiences. As a multiracial child, I had to work towards accepting that I was different from my peers. If I had had access to representation and resources, such those now provided by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, I believe I would not have felt quite as alone. I joined the DEI committee with the hope that I can use my experiences to help other minority students know that their voices are heard and that they are valued members of the Pitt community. Through the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, my hope is that the University of Pittsburgh will become a model for universities around the world on how to best address inclusivity on their campuses. I believe that promoting greater representation of minority students is the first step towards creating a more diverse and equitable university experience. By ensuring all voices are heard and valued, more students will feel empowered to come forward and voice their opinions on how to better the university as a whole. By lifting up minority voices, the University of Pittsburgh can begin the process of both recognizing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion present today and designing plans that best address them. 

Michael Sawyer
Michael Sawyer

Associate Professor of African American Literature & Culture

Michael's personal DEI statement

Michael is Associate Professor of African American Literature & Culture in the Department of English where he also serves as the Director of Graduate Studies. He is an Elects Faculty Fellow in the David C. Honors College, a faculty affiliate of Africana Studies and a fellow in the Transdisciplinary Seminar on Security in the European Studies Center, all at the University of Pittsburgh. Michael has published two monographs and is completing work on a third. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds master’s degrees from the University of Chicago in International Relations and from Brown University in Comparative Literature where he also completed a PhD in Africana Studies. 

My work is inter- or multi-disciplinary depending upon individual understanding of these terms. With that in mind, I am committed to using multi-disciplinary formations to broaden what we understand as the cannon through addition rather than subtraction. What that means is that the effort to decolonize our intellectual systems (and I mean this broadly, ranging from the humanities to STEM, and the arts) I think we are best served by being serious about adding voices rather than subtracting them and in so doing remaining attentive to the dialog that this requires and that forms out of it. I think being a member of this committee will facilitate that from a perspective of both pedagogy and subjectivity. 

Vidya Surti
Vidya Surti

Frederick Honors College Student

Vidya's personal DEI statement

Vidya Surti is a driven and accomplished senior at the University of Pittsburgh, with a profound commitment to Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) shaped by her personal journey. Her path within DEAI began at the age of 17 when she was diagnosed with an idiopathic chronic pain condition, Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome Vidya is currently pursuing a multifaceted academic journey at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Anthropology and complementing her studies with minors in English and Chemistry and a Certificate in Global Health: an interdisciplinary perspective. Beyond her academic pursuits, Vidya is deeply involved in the Pittsburgh community, serving on several nonprofit boards. She contributes her skills and insights to Radiant Hall, an arts nonprofit, and Queens Gambit, a youth chess nonprofit, exemplifying her commitment to community engagement, strategic planning, and partnerships. Vidya's engagement extends to the government sector, where she has been appointed by Mayor Gainey to serve on the City-County Task Force on Disabilities, where she acts as Secretary on the Executive Committee.  

Furthermore, Vidya has acted on her healthcare reform interests, participating in the Jewish Healthcare Foundation Feinstein Fellowships in healthcare activism and patient safety. Her multifaceted engagement reflects a growing passion for addressing healthcare disparities and fostering health equity. As a disability advocate and someone who personally grapples with chronic pain, Vidya aspires to further her studies in the DEAI field. She envisions pursuing advanced degrees, such as a JD/MPH or a JD/Ph.D., with a focus on interdisciplinary approaches to legal humanities and modern thought. Vidya's personal journey and her extensive involvement in the DEAI realm drive her ambition to make meaningful and lasting contributions to the betterment of society, particularly for individuals with disabilities.

Gail Wolfe
Gail Wolfe

FHC Academic Advisor

Gail's personal DEI statement

I’m delighted to serve as an academic advisor in the Frederick Honors College! I grew up in St. Louis, but I have proudly called Pittsburgh home since relocating here with my spouse in 2009. Prior to joining FHC in fall 2022, I taught an interdisciplinary array of courses to students across grade levels and educational institutions here in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I’m a historian of education by training with a PhD in Education and a graduate certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Washington University. Language learning is also as area of academic and personal interest, and I earned an MA in French from Penn State and a BA in French with a minor in Spanish from the University of Missouri before embarking on my PhD.   

Thinking seriously about systems of privilege and oppression and how to transform them in the service of equity and justice has been a through line connecting my graduate studies, dissertation research, and approach to teaching and relationship-building with students across institutions and grade levels. I bring this same commitment to my work in the Frederick Honors College, and it motivates and informs my participation in this committee. It is my hope to partner with students and colleagues on the committee to think, act, adjust, and respond in ways that promote belonging, equity, and justice in the spaces where we find ourselves, from FHC to the broader Pitt community and beyond.  

Student organizations with missions tied to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

  • The Asian Student Alliance
  • The Black Action Society
  • The Campus Women's Organization
  • Students for Disability Advocacy
  • The Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy Committee of the University Senate
  • Hillel JUC
  • The Muslim Students' Association (MSA)
  • The Provost's Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns (PACWC)
  • The Rainbow Alliance