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Respecting the Dignity of All…

Adrian, Michigan – Respecting the dignity of all is the foundation of our Mission Statement at Siena Heights University (SHU). The collaboration of many provided numerous opportunities this year to learn more about who we are as a community and to deepen our understanding of one another as people of God. 

An overview of these events would include:

  • Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy was the summer read required for first year students, followed by the blessing of having Mr. Stevenson be our keynote speaker for our annual Common Dialogue Day. His presentation reflected on the ways the prison system in this country disadvantages the poor and marginalized. He also spoke of the importance of hope – that with hope, change is possible. 

  • The theme of common Dialogue Day was Justice. 

  • Our first cultural celebration of Hispanic Heritage month invited us to learn more about our students with Hispanic backgrounds. 

  • Many members of the SHU community participated in the annual Lenawee County Martin Luther King, Jr. dinner and celebrated the accomplishments of senior nursing student and McNair Scholar Patrick Allen.

  • At the end of January, we joined with our international students to celebrate Brazilian Carnivál. 

  • Standing with their water collection for the people of Flint are members of the Sisterhood of Saints, from left: students Gabrielle Holness, Raven Moor, and April Watson; Sister Peg Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights; and students Daniell May, Charlena Williams, and Kathy Xavier.
  • Black history month brought multiple events, including a Gospel Concert with choirs from local churches.  

  • Two groups of students, the Sisterhood of Saints and the Men of Distinction, sponsored the creation of a youth mentoring program to support our local community. 

  • Our Sisterhood of Saints paired up with Campus Ministry Scholars in response to the Flint water crisis by holding a water donation drive, recognizing that all people should have access to clean water.

  • Women’s History Month (March) featured an all-day reading of women’s poetry and a showing of the film “Radical Grace,” detailing the lives of three religious Sisters who are working for social justice, to recognize National Catholic Sisters Week.  

  • Our annual end of the academic year Halo Fest closed with Holi Festival, where we celebrated the Indian culture and experienced the festival of colors. 

  • As part of the Commencement activities, our African-American faculty, staff and alums honor our African American graduates by presenting them with Kente stoles.

  • Dalila John, Assistant Professor of Social Work, presents a Kente stole to Reggie Blackmon during a special ceremony on graduation day.
  • The offices of Mission Education and Diversity and Inclusion brought our academic year to a close with two opportunities for faculty, staff, and administration to explore the importance of inclusion. First, Siena Heights University alum Jacqueline Battalora, PhD, JD placed the challenges to becoming inclusive within the historical context of the development of the idea of a “white” race and invited us to explore our own cultural biases and the importance of higher education providing the foundation for dialogue and exploration. The following week, Siena Heights University hosted the American College Personnel Association of Michigan’s Equity and Inclusion Summit, which brought higher education professionals from across the state to explore the importance of practicing authenticity, integrity, and self-care as students and educators.  

These many events and celebrations are opportunities to help us to learn, grow, and deepen as a community as we strive to faithfully live our mission to be people who are competent, purposeful, and ethical while respecting the dignity of all.  

Feature photo: Students celebrate the Indian Culture – and experience an explosion of color – at Holi Festival, marking the end of the academic year.


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