Rachel Cunningham-Exavier reaches out
Donovan Wilson – Reporter
Rachel Cunningham-Exavier, assistant director at the Office of Career and Professional Development, uses her platform at the university to reach out to the campus population and offer advice on how to become a leader as an oppressed minority.
Leading As A Woman Of Color was an online event hosted by Cunningham-Exavier held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23rd The event was not only to introduce her to the campus population but to also allow her to speak her story and spread her message and wisdom.
“College is where I really discovered my identity because I was finally completely on my own and totally living for myself,” said Cunningham-Exavier.
Most of the information was presented through a PowerPoint that went over her life, phase by phase. She started by explaining her childhood and how the ethnicity she was born into helped to begin to sculpt her. As she began to grow up, she discovered Christianity. Her religion began to also shape her identity as well. Cunningham-Exavier then goes into explaining about how college and her eventual careers helped her to fully come into her own identity entirely and who she is and how she attacks life.
A large portion of her presentation also focused on how to overcome discrimination in the workplace, something that currently plagues the workplace for minorities in general, but specifically women of color like herself. She goes on to explain many bosses she had early on in her professional life would push her down and try to give her less opportunity due to her skin color and gender. She dealt with this by pushing down the emotion and gathering the facts such as what others were offered that she was not and would always present those facts when she felt wronged rather than acting out of anger.
“We’ve been hosting these workshops not only to coincide with Black History Month, but to connect the campus to their resources and faculty and staff members,” said Daphney Alston, a part of the Student Involvement and Leadership Development offices and host of the meeting.
Student Involvement and Leadership Development have been hosting these workshops to connect different members of the campus who have a relevance to Black History Month, the upcoming Women’s History Month or anything else going on in the world to their students. This workshop specifically felt like much less of a workshop and more of a personal conversation students had the opportunity to sit in and learn from. In fact, the meeting itself started with Alston and Cunningham-Exavier just having a conversation about their families as people poured in, and it helped relax the mood.
“Does the fatigue of suppressing emotion ever get to you?,” said Aaron Morabito, student and a audience member.
The end of the presentation opened the floor to two very interesting segments, one quite normal and one that really made this conversation seem so much different than the typical one. One of these segments was the typical Q & A that most workshop conversations have but the subject matter led to deep questions on the subject of leading as a minority.
However, the final section was opened up for the audience members to then explain about themselves in brief what Cunningham-Exavier had explained about herself.
“Self-care is key to being a leader as a woman of color in this world,” said Cunningham-Exavier.