Danielle Johnson works at the office of diversity and inclusion at Wichita State. Going from in-person, to virtual, to hybrid, and back again has been a challenge. But when students show her how much she impacts them, it reminds her that it’s all worth it.
"Students are starting to come back to Wichita State’s campus, and to what we like to call our home away from home: the office of diversity and inclusion. A lot of our students obviously had to leave abruptly in March, and then we’ve been doing this hybrid life from the fall and now rolling back to the spring. Students have just been excited to come in the office. One of the students, Mohamed Dia, brought a candle and had a sticky note attached to it. And the sticky note says, 'Danielle, thank you for being amazing, helpful, and a great role model every year. I hope this candle brightens up your day. Mohamed.' It was just nice to see him and have an opportunity to talk and get this unexpected gift.
"It makes me want to make sure my programs are up to par, because it’s been draining to just do programs on Zoom. But from thank you cards, to, 'It’s nice to see you.' Or 'Hey, when I can get on your calendar?' Folks asking to go to coffee and engaging. And I think vice versa. Staff members reaching out, and being like, 'Hey, stop by.' Or, 'I haven’t seen you.' It’s almost like chasing them down the hall. We see them and say, 'Hey, a student! Come see us!' So I hope we’re not getting creepy. It’s just nice to physically see people, in a safe way. Hearing the laughter in our office again is nice. Just to know that the students are like, 'We see you, and we appreciate the work you’re doing,' just provides that incentive to make sure that we are still showing up, doing what we need to do. We have to go hard, every day, regardless of the situation."