Keynote Speaker: Dr. Terrel Strayhorne: The Educational Benefits of Diversity

Posted on Updated on

At 8:15am on 4/13/2017, I attended the Professional Development Keynote: The Educational Benefits of Diversity: How It Helps Everyone Excel, presented by Dr. Terrel Strayhorne at the 2017 Spring Faculty Professional Development conference in Raleigh, NC.


Keynote: The Educational Benefits of Diversity: How It Helps Everyone Excel

The keynote speaker was 30 minutes late for the presentation. He had accidentally gone to the wrong campus. We took a moment to reflect on how difficult it can be for new students- multiple campuses, multiple buildings, parking areas and decks… it can be very confusing. Its been a while that many people in this room has been one. He was a very humorous and well-spoken.

higher education has a great portion of the populace which is working but close to recognition and close to being lured away by money, efforts, or quicker faster money and solutions. 15% minorities start their educational careers in community colleges, and especially those close to them. 21m college students in the US, 4300 colleges & Universities, 2000+ 2-year community colleges, 1000+ online degree schools. With all that, 1/3 of all students identify themselves as “First Generation” college students. $250B in federal financial aid each year.

Part of this presentation was geared around the paradigm shift. Someone will have to come out with the clearly noted words or information. Most colleges are “student centered”. How much would parking cost and what is the parking situation like in a “student centered” campus? How are computer labs, chemistry labs, building access setup for “student centered” access. Just saying it doesn’t set us on the path to completion.

1/3 of students claim they are “first generation students”. It is not a static term, it is not clearly defined. 400,000 foster youth in any given day. about 20,000 age-out of the system. 87% feel they need higher education, but less than 9% ever earn one. “I have foster family, adoptive family, and some biological parents I’ve never met. Am I a first generation student?”

Access Without Success is Useless

The national graduation rate is 57%. fifty years ago, it was illegal for african americans, latinos, asians, etc., to learn in college. Although we’ve opened up access, we haven’t opened up success. Many of the reasons that students go to community colleges are the same reasons that they use for going to 4-year schools. Jobs. Job skills. Better futures.

Employers want:

  • Work well on diverse teams
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Communicate well verbally with people in/out unit
  • Plan, organize, prioritize work
  • Proficiency with computers & technology
  • Sell and influence others
  • Imagine create and see connections
  • Storytelling & maximizing stories
  • Maintain integrity in work activities

They want us to train graduates. They want you to teach students to do things on their own. You have a job, a strategy, a goal. Do whatever you have to do to get the job done. Rather than coddling students with a detailed syllabus and plan, give the plan, and give the activities without setting demands on process. Frontload the material, and allow the students to use the processes in the order they choose and comment on the process. It is important here to not that employers are very interested in individuals who can work well on diverse teams.

Come to higher education to learn how to work with people from other colleges. College is your training ground. Don’t encourage segregation in the classroom. Students find a sense of belonging. The trouble with this is that often the group sense of belonging is about homogeneity. Seeing that most groups are made of individuals, but seeing many people seeing a group of people with only similarities opens the door for individuals to be taught that if someone is dissimilar, they should not belong to the group.

What does it take for students to belong at your college?

Take a minute about that. Our group noted that a willingness to participate is all that it takes to be part of the family at Wake Technical Community College. WE give the oppportunity to succeed, but also the ability to fail and set things right from that teachable moment.

A sense of belonging refers to a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together

We may have to be uncomfortable so that we can assure some comfort to those we cared for. Education brings the light out from within, it released the knowledge from within. With education, we transport our students from knowledge to understanding.


This speaker was dynamic, funny, on point, and fantastic. Would definitely listed to this speaker again.