Meet the Staff of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion

Posted: April 26, 2019 | Author: Kenzie Lundberg | Read Time: 2 minutes

Center for diversity and inclusion staffThe Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) at Southern Utah University exists to validate the multiple identities present on SUU’s campus, while integrating the voices and experiences of marginalized people. The center provides emotional, social, and financial support to students from historically underrepresented communities (e.g. students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, first-generation college students, etc.)

“Our name is Diversity and Inclusion,” said Maria Martinez, the director of the CDI. “We are all about including and hearing everyone’s voices, particularly those from historically marginalized groups. Traditionally they haven't always been heard, but together we can make those voices louder.”

The CDI works directly with students electronically (sending out scholarship and internship opportunities) or face-to-face with the students who frequent our center. They also work closely with the CDI student clubs to support marginalized populations on campus. Overall they mentor students through any personal hardships they may be facing and provide academic, professional, and social support to make sure students thrive here at SUU. 

A typical day in the CDI includes students laughing, studying, and dancing, sometimes all at the same time (students are known to participate in spontaneous dance-offs and rap battles).

The CDI is truly a home away from home for many students. As Sunny Sims, a senior in political science put it in the last University Journal issue, "Sometimes I will find myself in here because it's where I feel the most comfortable." 

While the CDI and their programming has a focus towards historically marginalized communities, they welcome everyone to the CDI space to celebrate these identities! 

CDI Coordinator Willy Palomo’s office includes a biblioteca where students, staff, and faculty alike are welcome to check out the poetry, fiction, or histories of marginalized peoples. Titles include Don’t Call Us Dead by queer poz Black poet Danez Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, and The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miran Pawel.

The CDI hosts events throughout the year, from critical conversations with local activists and poets, as in the Beyond the Dream film screening and Q&A, to cultural showcases, such as the Miss Native American SUU Pageant or the Step Show. Those wanting to stay up-to-date with CDI happenings can sign up for the CDI newsletter or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

The CDI team is comprised of Maria Martinez as the director, Willy Palomo as coordinator, and Alyssa Backmand, Meshak Gaisoa, India McDougle and Sunny Sims as the official ambassador team. To contact the Center for Diversity and Inclusion call (435) 865-8761 or email


Written in partnership with SUU's Staff Association

The Staff Association's objectives are to advocate for staff by representing and advancing their interests and recognizing the value of their contributions, involve staff by encouraging social, service, and professional engagement, unify staff toward common goals that will advance the University’s mission and goals, and to communicate with campus entities to ensure staff are aware of current information.

Learn more about the Staff Association


Tags: Staff Center for Diversity and Inclusion

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