Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mailee Kue, Bryant’s newest member of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. I wanted to get to know Mailee and share my findings with the rest of Bryant in hopes that we can all make her feel welcome on our campus!
Molly Funk: What can you tell me about your educational background?
Mailee Kue: Sure… I’m a Rhode Islander,and I did my undergraduate degree at Boston University, and then I did my master’s degree in counseling education at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.Then fairly recently, in 2010, I finished my PhD work at the University of Rhode Island with a degree in psychology, specifically focusing on behavioral sciences.
My dissertation work was related to learning more about the college persistence and helping students develop learning strategies to successfully navigate the educational system.
And that work is very much in line with the work that I do in diversity on college campuses. I also have an interest area in research on multicultural competence and learning about how to help individuals build confidence for participating in activities, relationships, collaborations with individuals who may be different than themselves.
That research has really formed the foundation of the work that I do in diversity and inclusion.
MF: What are your duties here at Bryant?
MK: I’m really interested in providing a comprehensive approach to the work of diversity and inclusion on this campus.
I’ve done the work of diversity at different institutions for many years and often times the work can be siloed in the way that you know we’re doing some great work at this center, but at another center we’re kind of replicating or marketing and putting in just as many resources in getting their message out about their important issues.
For me, my main focus is to get the different areas of diversity pulled together; to really put a brand on campus that says we are a comprehensive team, helping Bryant University develop community and learn more about diversity and be more inclusive in our work so that we help all members of our student body. I think that comprehensive approach is going to be more effective on a smaller campus such as Bryant, a relational campus, a smaller community.
Often times you have students that have many identities, you don’t find students that just say ‘I’m a woman’ period. We have these intersectionalities that say, ‘I’m a woman with a disability. I’m a woman that identifies as a lesbian. I’m a woman that identifies as straight. I’m a man that identifies as gay. I’m an African American man.’
There are always these intersectionalities of identities, and I think too often we say you know, ‘you have to pick just one’.
The idea is to say that the issues of diversity are relevant to everyone—you really just have to find your space. By pulling all these differences together we widen the spectrum and we broaden our abilities to be more inclusive. The more we learn about each other, the more skilled we are going to be working productively and through conflict. I’m interested in helping students, professors, and staff work together in diverse settings.
MF: What do you think about Bryant so far?
MK: I really like Bryant so far, my background had been in public education but specifically at Bryant I think in some ways we can provide quality programs for students.
In some ways we can do that readily because Bryant students are primed for this; so I think that work on awareness is going to be highly effective and highly appropriate. I think students are very friendly and willing to see how diversity can work for them in their future careers.
As a community we need to work towards that equitable and inclusive community feel. Part of the characteristics of Bryant is that we have to be innovative—we know that humans evolve. So I think the work of diversity has to go in that same framework as well. The students are very ready for being aware and learning some content about diversity but we can’t stop there.
We have to think about the next step and who is providing those programs—that’s where my office comes in. I’m really excited to be a part of these conversations.
MF: What can you tell me about your personal background and what you enjoy doing in your free time?
MK: Believe it or not I love to learn. I’ve been in school forever—I always say I went on to a college campus in 1990 and I have never left. And it’s so awesome because I’ve been able to work in an artificial situation. I’ve never had to be in a corporate setting. My work has always been exciting and rejuvenating and innovative and changing.
For now I love the dynamic nature of working with college students on college campuses because you always have a new group of students coming in—you’re always challenged to recalibrate and think of the best ways to reach the newer group of students. Loving to learn has served me well.
MF: My last question: what is your main goal for the future, personally or just in your time at Bryant?
MK: Honestly, I just want to be able to wake up in the morning and say “yes! I’ve got to go to work.” If I could wake up every day wanting to give 150%, 90% of the time, I would be happy. In the time that I am here, I want to be as centered and focused as I can be in experiencing the moment but also sharing the most I can about myself so others can experience that as well.
Really that’s how I feel, I know it sounds really kooky. But that’s what I want to do: be present, be clear, be focused on helping people and being the best person I could be.