Message from the Chief Diversity Officer
Dear App State Community,
In the space between the end of one academic year and the beginning of another, I enjoy taking the time to reflect upon all that our university does to equip our students with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to be successful in the next chapter of their lives.
Behind every graduate is a unique story
As we gathered earlier this month at our formal commencement ceremonies, I was reminded that each graduating student has walked a different path. Students expressed their journeys and identities by wearing a variety of cords, stoles and hoods representing their academic achievements; affiliations that included international, military and university athletic teams, and first-generation college graduate status. Some had strong support networks from the beginning, others had to build theirs along the way. These foundational experiences will continue to inform every experience moving forward.
A beginning, as well as an end
After our students graduate, their App State education continues to serve as both a rudder and a north star — helping them navigate the challenges and opportunities they face daily in a constantly changing world, while at the same time guiding and inspiring them to achieve their long-term hopes and dreams.
We are fortunate to have a diverse group of dynamic graduates who are applying their App State education to make a positive impact on the communities where they live and the organizations where they work. As an example, Douglas Middleton Jr. ’15 ’18, App State’s 2022 Young Alumni Award winner and an NFL veteran, today provides mental health resources to youth and student-athletes through his Dream the Impossible foundation. The work of Middleton and so many of our Mountaineer alumni exemplifies the curiosity, adaptability and perseverance — focused on a greater good — that we seek to instill in all of our graduates.
Staying focused on our strategic priorities
As we look toward the 2023-24 academic year, it’s also important to recognize the progress we’re making toward one of the university’s six strategic priorities: Advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. App State has taken great strides in this effort under the leadership of Chancellor Everts:
- The number of underrepresented degree earners has increased by 117 percent.
- First-generation degree earners have increased by 51 percent.
- Low-income degree earners have increased by 31 percent.
I am grateful for the unique talents and diverse perspectives that our May 2023 graduates contributed to our community during their time at App State. And I look forward to witnessing the many different ways they enrich the lives of others as they apply their App State education in pursuit of their dreams.
We will continue working hard to meet the goal stated in our strategic plan of cultivating and supporting a welcoming university community and an academic culture of collaboration and respect through education and inclusive practices.
Jamie Parson, J.D.
Chief Diversity Officer