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Lashawna Wright Edmond '12 Remains Committed to Multicultural Student Affairs

By Kenneth Stratton '19 TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 2019 - 12:00 PM WNE100

Imagine attending a school you didn’t like very much, and were ready to transfer from - only to find yourself more involved on campus, and suddenly enjoying every minute of it. That's how the experience went for Lashawna Wright Edmond '12 - or something like that anyway.

Wright Edmond is the assistant director for multicultural student affairs at University of South Carolina-Columbia. Before she was a professional in student affairs, she was a student, very concerned about her own affairs, at Western New England University.

“We need to figure out a different place,” Wright Edmond remembers thinking at one point. But after a while, she found that being involved made college a much more enjoyable experience, and the connections she built as a result were worth staying for.

By the time she was in her junior year, Wright Edmond was an active member of United & Mutually Equal (U&ME), a multicultural student organization on campus. First serving as public relations officer, she’d go on to be vice president, and later, president of the organization. She became involved with Connections Mentoring, a program designed to build lasting connections between underrepresented incoming students and upper-class students already in U&ME.

Wright Edmond recalled an episode from years after graduation, when on a visit to Dubai, one of her former mentees served as a local tour guide. “It’s those relationships you make at Western New England,” that made it worth staying, she explained.

Thanks to U&ME, not only was Wright Edmond better prepared to enjoy her time as a student, but it opened doors that allowed her to think more seriously about her future. And for that, she thanks Yvonne Bogle, assistant dean of diversity programs and services.

“Dean Bogle certainly served as a guide for me,” Wright Edmond said with a note of gratitude. Bogle helped send her to a conference in Arizona during her senior year, presented by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). She became more serious about working in higher education, and continued to foster a passion for diversity issues on college campuses.

“Being a person of color at a predominantly white institution can be challenging,” Wright Edmond noted. With her mind made up to pursue work in the field of multicultural student affairs, she earned her Master of Education degree from Springfield College while working at Western New England. For that, and the opportunity that would come next, she thanks Dean Kerri Jarzabski.

Wright Edmond was forwarded an opportunity at Presbyterian College from Jarzabski, and decided to take the leap. After making the move, Wright Edmond has spent the last five years in South Carolina, and says she’s still adjusting to life in the South.

“South Carolina has taught me about who I am as a black woman in the United States,” Wright Edmond said. She recalled points of tension during her time at Presbyterian between her office and students opposed to multicultural programs.

“Talking about diversity doesn’t mean you’re always talking about race,” Wright Edmond explained. “And sometimes it’s just about how you have the conversation – we don’t have to agree – people do have different life experiences,” she acknowledged. But, as she went on to say, there’s no place for violence, or silencing the discussion of diversity issues.

Of course, life in the South hasn’t been a constant struggle. Wright Edmond finds there is a slower pace to life, at least compared to the Northeast. She lives about an hour from Charlotte, and she enjoys the city. The lifestyle is different, but she’s valued the opportunity as a learning experience.

Today, Wright Edmond continues her work as assistant director for multicultural student affairs, this time, at University of South Carolina-Columbia. As for what comes next in her career, Wright Edmond is looking forward to climbing the ladder in higher education and potentially earning a doctorate.

Wright Edmond started out at Western New England not very involved and somewhat isolated on campus. But by the time she left campus, she had been a student leader, a Graduate Assistant, a member of the Board of Trustees, and was bound for a career in multicultural student affairs.

“It takes a village, it takes a community like the one I found at Western New England,” Wright Edmond said. She thought more about the importance of the little moments and personal relationships she built while on campus. “Those are the memories we talk about; just being together and hanging out in Dean Bogle’s office,” she added.

In addition to Bogle and Jarzabski, Wright Edmond thanks additional faculty and staff members for always being honest, approachable, and for helping make her the person she is today. The list includes Dean Josie Brown, Dean Jeanne Hart-Steffes, Professor Jean Marie Vianney Higiro, and the entire Department of Psychology. Wright Edmond also thanks her WNE friends, saying she wouldn't have made it through college without them, and her family, for always being by her side.