This July, the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding welcomed two new faces to its staff. Jes Norman and Victoria Yu are three months into their time at the University, but they are already making huge strides in promoting diversity and understanding on campus.
Tennille Haynes, the Director of the Fields Center, has nothing but praise for the two.
“Both have been working hard and really engaging more with students,” she said. “They’re doing an amazing job at helping to provide a space that is welcoming and inclusive, as well as creating that community that we thrive for at the Fields Center.”
Just three months in, Norman has been influential in catalyzing greater intersectional appreciation. At the Fields Center, Norman serves as the education and outreach program coordinator. Her main project is the Fields Fellows Program, which encourages peer education and awareness of various intersecting topics on campus.
“I was born and raised in California,” Norman said. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University, Norman moved to New York to pursue a master’s degree in higher education at Syracuse University.
In addition to work on the Fellows Program, Norman also plays a major role in organizing the Fields Center Conversation Circles.
“Each Sunday, students from the Fellows Program facilitate conversations on campus,” Norman said. These events are held weekly and encourage discussions and dialogues about personal identities, systemic injustices, and everything in between.
Although Norman has only been on campus for three months, she already feels a great connection to the students and the various perspectives that they bring.
“This school year, I really hope to create more space for storytelling because it can be so powerful,” Norman said. “The more that we engage in conversations about our stories and our experiences, the more that we are able to understand and connect more with others.”
Yu serves as the main coordinator for the Princeton University Mentoring Program. This program focuses on helping students from minority groups transition culturally, academically, and socially to the University. Freshmen and upperclassmen are paired together and are encouraged to have active mentor-mentee relationships during the academic school year.
Hailing from Columbia, Mo., Yu attended the University of Missouri for her undergraduate studies. Following graduation, she attended Pennsylvania State University and received her master's degree in higher education and student affairs.
For the past three months, Yu has also worked as the student transitions and mentoring program coordinator. So far, she has contributed to Orientation events as well as Fields Day planning to welcome first-year and returning students.
“I’ll also be helping out with senior celebrations, such as pan-African graduation celebration and Latinx graduation celebration,” Yu said. These events simultaneously commemorate students of color in the graduating class, as well as these students' cultural backgrounds.
One goal in particular that Yu hopes to accomplish in the coming months is to meet more students and learn their stories.
“I’m really hoping to support students in any capacity that I can,” Yu said. “I’m hoping that with the Fields Center, we can increase visibility and accessibility and just make the Center more approachable for students to come visit and share ideas that they have.”