By: LeAndrea Rainey

LeAndrea Rainey is a third-year nursing major and is pursuing minors in Spanish and American Sign Language. LeAndrea was born in Chicago, IL but she currently lives in Hammond, IN. She is a middle school sweetheart and got engaged last November. LeAndrea loves steak tacos, Jesus, painting (for relaxation), and cheesecake. She is an Honors College Diversity Fellow, a member of the Student Antiracism and Intersectionality Council (SAIAC), Vice President of Red Cross Club at Ball State, and a member of Pinky Promise and Impact.

I am a Diversity fellow along with Brooke Beaman. We are under the supervision of Dr. Obed Frausto and Dr. Jackson Bartlett. The professors started the Honors College Diversity Project (HCDP) and we have formed a committee of honors students to continue and expand on the work of the HCDP. The HCDP was first formed to create the Honors College’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. Today, we focus on the continual implementation of the plan through events and social media.

I was on the original HCDP that created the Honors College strategic plan for diversity and inclusion. Dr. Bartlett asked me to join the HCDP when I was taking his Honors 189 class as a freshman. Out of the HCDP, they decided to make a fellowship. Brooke and I were asked to become fellows and we have been enjoying the ride ever since.

One of my favorite things about the fellowship is watching it progress. This semester we are tackling anti-racism and how to embed and teach anti-racist behavior to all members of the Honors College (students, faculty, administrators, and alumni). The work we have been doing has challenges and roadblocks and it can be frustrating at times to want to continue. Certain challenges include complacency and closed-mindedness from the Honors College community. Sometimes change is a hard thing for people to adapt to so they shut it down without trying and it can be hard to always be the one to stand up for things or to teach people who I should be learning from. However, being able to see the progress that has been made is hope and motivation.

This fellowship is important because the nation and its institutions struggle with equity for marginalized groups. Some people are more aware of it than others. Our goal is to make everyone aware and then bring about change. This fellowship has taught me patience and to celebrate the “small” wins. Professionally, it has taught me to interact better with people who have different views than me and how important grace is when trying to bring about change. Calling people out creates division and defensiveness but calling people in creates more understanding and empathy.

My time as a fellow has been a great learning opportunity and I am grateful for all the resources, conferences, and meetings I was exposed to. COVID has put a damper on a lot of activities we had planned but I am excited to see how our fellowship and committee will grow.