Keara Chambers M.P.A, a coordinator in Engineering’s Office of Government and Community Outreach, has been named the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator. In this role, sponsored by the Dean’s Office, she will oversee the new Engineering Drives Inclusive Excellence Council (EDIE), made up of engineering faculty and staff.
"The College of Engineering is committed to DEI and has incorporated its tenets into all that we do. Our faculty, staff and students are diverse in every sense. The number of women faculty and students continues to grow. Not only is our freshman class diverse at the outset, but our retention rates for ethnic, racial and cultural minority students continue to improve. We still have work to do, which is why the EDIE Council is so important to our future," said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Dean of VCU Engineering. "I am grateful to Keara and the EDIE Council for their service in helping VCU Engineering be the community we all desire."
We caught up with Keara to learn more about the VCU Engineering Inclusive Excellence Council and to find out why she is passionate about her new role.
Q: Tell us about this new position and the types of things you'll be doing.
A: Well, it is not entirely a new position at the college. For a couple of years now, I have been working with the Office of Government and Community Outreach on enhancing community engagement and outreach with key stakeholders in public school systems. We have been diligent in bridging the gap for K-12 students to higher education and increasing access to STEM resources. As the outreach and diversity coordinator for the college, I am able to not only tackle some of the social inequities as it relates to access to STEM education but also the racial inequities. Some of my responsibilities include working with students from historically marginalized communities, developing digestible information on our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and advising executive leadership on DEI principles and best practices to enhance the engineering community.
Q: What attracts you to this role?
A: I have about nine years’ experience in managing programs in non-profit organizations and working with communities with limited resources. In my professional experience, and some research suggests, many challenges for underserved communities come from lack of awareness resulting from a lack of information. It was a more-than-easy decision for me to switch fields and work in higher education to provide the community with information that can advance racial and social justice. Also, not many people are aware of this, I took courses in computer science as a high school student. So, it was a no-brainer for the inner nerd in me to pursue a career at the College of Engineering.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish?
A: To inspire and engage our community's students. To make an impact! And to achieve racial and social justice!
Q: What does success look like to you?
A: Success to me is when a student at one of our partner schools tells me that they see themselves as an engineer. To plant the seed and support our community students’ to be the next generation of problem solvers is everyone’s success story.