Emily Boswell Strain

Emily Boswell Strain was our 2020-2021 Graduate Student Inclusive Excellence Award recipient.  Emily is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology  graduate program.

Teal Russeau nominated Emily.  Teal wrote that, “Emily is a champion for diversity and inclusion in every aspect of her scholarship, clinical work, and research at Ball State University, and I am honored to be her friend and classmate. Emily lives her life incredibly in line with the Beneficence Pledge, and is one of the most outspoken and genuinely caring graduate students that I know, specifically as an ally for diversity and inclusive excellence within our department, practicum clinic, her cohort, her supervisees, and the broader BSU community.”

Here is a Q and A with Emily

What is your inclusive excellence philosophy?

I approach much of my work from a multicultural feminist lens and with cultural humility. I think everyone has room to grow, and will always have room to grow, when it comes to multiculturalism and inclusive excellence. The “end goal” of becoming multiculturally competent is a moving target, and the closer you get to it, the further it goes. It is critical that we all open ourselves up to perspectives we will never experience, value and uplift marginalized voices, and engage in honest self-reflection about our own experiences, beliefs, and biases.

What strategies do you employ in your work in inclusive excellence?

From a birds-eye-view, inclusive excellence is ingrained in everything I do, including conducting research, instructing courses, working with clients, and engaging with peers and faculty. I employ strategies at micro-, meso-, and macro-levels of intervention. The micro-level, or interpersonal work, is either aimed at challenging others or uplifting others. Challenging others can look like helping them increase their self-reflection and self-awareness or providing feedback about a negative impact they had on others. Uplifting others can look like holding space for others and affirming others when they verbalize experiences that I don’t share with them due to my own privileged identities.

At the meso-level, or community/departmental level, I am a member of the Counseling Psychology department Diversity Committee, I helped to develop and provide a cross-cultural communication training to Ball State staff and faculty, I try to provide multiple perspectives when I instruct undergraduate courses, and I participate in peaceful demonstrations and fundraising events that are important to me.

At the macro-level, I am the chair of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students Committee for Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (APAGS-CSOGD). Through APAGS, my hope is to enact lasting changes that will support psychology graduate students who hold underserved and marginalized identities.

What is your proudest achievement in inclusive excellence for your graduate program?

I am always touched when my peers and supervisees share that I impacted them. My peers and supervisees have shared that I helped give them to courage to be more vocal in standing up to injustices they witness, to engage in more self-reflection related to their identities, and to engage in discussion about diversity more frequently. Seeing my own passion spread to others is very rewarding.

Who has helped you along the way as you have developed your skills in this area?

I have many people to thank for moving me along my personal journey, including  Dr. Mary Kite, my advisor and dissertation chair. Her work in the field of social psychology related to prejudice and discrimination has built a strong foundation for myself and others to engage in inclusive research and undergraduate instruction.

My peers, many of whom also embody inclusive excellence and prioritize diversity at the heart of their work, have had a significant influence on me over the past few years. They have offered valuable perspectives and engaging conversations related to diversity. I frequently consult with my peers about improving my skills and approach with counseling, research, and teaching.

Dr. Ghazel Tellawi, my supervisor during my master’s internship, helped me to engage in self-reflection and challenge myself to engage in difficult conversations related to diversity, and to evaluate my own strengths, growth areas, and unique perspectives related to diversity and inclusive excellence in order to be a better counselor for my clients.

Additionally, faculty within the Residential College of Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, where I received my undergraduate degree, helped me to think critically about narratives and perspectives. This was my first dive into diversity and inclusive excellence, and it ignited my passion for social justice and multiculturalism.

Anything else you would like us to know?

I’m incredibly honored to receive this award. Thank you to Teal Russeau, MA for nominating me and supporting my endeavors!