Student Empowerment Series set for April 24

The virtual event is designed to help TROY students through discussions and informative speeches.

The virtual event is designed to help TROY students through discussions and informative speeches.

Troy University’s Student Services is hosting the first ever entry in the Student Empowerment Series, titled “Being the Best Version of You in a Diverse World”on Saturday, April 24 with help from the athletics department and the Phenix City Campus.

The series is designed to equip Troy University students with the leadership and communication strategies necessary to engage in crucial conversations related to social change, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“The series further aims for students to diversify their networks and acquire valuable resources to support their personal, professional and social goals,” said Derrick Brewster, the Associate Dean of Student Services and coordinator for the seminar. “Through the six plenary sessions and the keynote speaker, students will be inspired and empowered to better understand the diverse world in which they live, work and lead.”

The day comes to a peak with keynote speaker Col. Felicia Burks’ 40-minute discussion. Burks is Chief of the Diversity and Inclusion Division for the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General in Virginia, as well as a Wiregrass native and graduate of Troy University.

As the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Division Chief, she helps shape policy while serving as a senior advisor and champion for the Air Force Surgeon General and senior medical leadership across the Air Force Medical Service. Her presentation, titled “Leading in the New Normal,” will speak on how her experiences reflect the importance of diverse leadership.

Other presentations throughout the day will include “Moral Compass: What Guides You,” “Telling the Story: Sharing Diversity Through the Arts,” “The Power of Authentic Leadership,” “Unconscious Bias Within Higher Education,” “Inclusion in a New World,” and “College Student Mental Health and Well-being.”

“We intentionally chose speakers who came from different backgrounds who have a wide range of knowledge,” said Sadaris Williams, the Assistant Director of Student Involvement and Leadership and a coordinator for the event. “They will include the topic of diversity in how it affects the current time and struggles.”

Brewster added that the speakers are also seasoned in the area of diversity with respect for different ethnicities and experience with minority students.

While this is the first time this series has been hosted, both coordinators agreed that they would like to see the series become an annual event, after listening sessions with students, faculty and staff showed a consensus about the need to have a crucial conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a diverse and international university, this series is a part of the response to that request. “We have to start the quest to meet that standard,” said Brewster.

Coordinators said they hope that if anything, students will come and listen with an open mind, as listening, gaining knowledge and sharing that information is essential to our growth and being comfortable with change.

The series will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Microsoft Teams, and interested parties can register at The event is free, but everyone is encouraged to register soon as slots can fill up.