APU Online Learning Original

Alumni Stories: Advocating for DEI in Higher Education

By John Robert Morton, Student, and Alumni Affairs Liaison, and Tracie White, AMU Graduate

What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month by recognizing an extraordinary woman? Tracie White is a University graduate who received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2023.

She currently works as a program administrator in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Eberly College of Science at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Her goal is to support students in their academic pursuits by creating inclusive environments where each individual feels valued, empowered and celebrated.

Alumna Tracie White. Image courtesy of authors.

Tracie says, “I come from financial struggle, which compelled me to seek avenues that would broaden my horizons.” After high school, she joined the Marine Corps, driven by a desire to seek opportunities beyond what her Arkansas hometown could offer. Tracie became an intelligence specialist for the Marine Corps and served in that role for over three years.

Eventually, she decided to pursue a degree in business administration and enrolled at the University because it offered the flexibility Tracie needed. She needed a school that fitted her busy schedule, which included transitioning out of the Marine Corps and getting married.

She notes, “The University’s flexible class schedules and online learning platform provided the autonomy I needed to balance my personal and professional commitments.” She completed her degree in two years and began pursuing job opportunities.

Promoting Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

In September 2022, Tracie secured a part-time job as an administrative assistant at Schreyer Honors College at Penn State. That position eventually evolved into a full-time role at the Eberly College of Science’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Penn State.

Since Tracie was already familiar with Penn State’s structure, mission, and future goals, that was an advantage. Penn State leaders wanted to implement diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) programs and needed employees with expertise in DEI initiatives and a background with the university, so Tracie was a natural fit.

During her workweek, Tracie works with students in their academic pursuits, ensuring that they have access to useful resources such as tutors, technology tools and academic planning.  She also plans events, analyzes data, performs research and sends out communications.

In addition, Tracie is currently pursuing a master’s degree in higher education. Her career goal is to become an administrator at a higher education institution, so that she can continue to advocate for inclusive policies and practices that promote DEI for all students.

Tracie says, “My life has been a zig-zag journey, filled with both challenges and triumphs. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and it’s essential to remain adaptable and open to new opportunities. Never underestimate the value of continuous learning and curiosity, as they are essential drivers of personal and professional growth.

 “What truly defines greatness is the ongoing pursuit of growth and relentless determination to make a positive impact! My journey is far from over and is a continuous evolution fueled by passion, resilience, and a commitment to excellence.”

Advice to Aspiring Administrators

Tracie observes, “An administrator’s job requires various skills such as communication, time management, organizational skills and leadership. Through my courses at the University, I had the opportunity to further develop these skills and they have proven useful in my current position.”

Getting More Involved in DEIB at the University

Diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) plays an important role in our University community. There are various opportunities to collaborate and develop relationships with other students, alumni, staff and faculty members, ranging from mentoring to student organizations that serve the needs of students from different cultures or genders.

If you are interested in DEIB or joining a student organization, please contact the Office of Student and Alumni Affairs for more information. In a student organization, members can serve in leadership roles, volunteer for various activities or find other ways to help the University community.

About the Author

John Robert Morton is a Student & Alumni Affairs Liaison and has been with the University for 14 years. His bachelor’s degree in European history is from Troy University in Troy, Alabama. He also completed master’s degrees in political science and sports management from American Military University. As a liaison, John Robert enjoys helping students and alumni to achieve their personal and professional goals.

About Our Department

The AMU and APU Alumni Affairs Office is dedicated to sustaining lifelong relationships with university alumni by providing engaging opportunities to stay involved and connected. We work closely with a variety of stakeholders to strengthen the alumni experience and to offer a variety of benefits, services, activities, and events throughout the year.

As a team, the Alumni Affairs team works to build and sustain relationships with alumni along their personal and professional journeys. We actively look for ways to recognize and showcase alumni, telling their stories to motivate and encourage students in the pursuit of their goals.

If you are a member of the alumni community and are looking for ways to remain actively involved, please contact alumni@apus.edu and speak with a member of the team.

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