Northern Michigan University's 16th annual UNITED Conference will revolve around the theme of “Writing Our Own Stories” and celebrate the 10th anniversary of NMU's Diversity Common Reader Program. It will also be presented in a new one-day format on Monday, March 20, with two keynote speeches and several brief sessions on a variety of topics from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Northern Center. Community members are invited to attend this free event. Refreshments will be available throughout the day.
Nyshell Lawrence will deliver the first keynote from 1-2 p.m. She is the founder of Socialight Society, a local independent bookshop in the Lansing Mall that celebrates Black women and Black literature. She curates classic, contemporary and children's titles predominantly authored by women of color. Elsa Sjunneson, author of this year's Diversity Common Reader Selection, Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism, will present a virtual evening keynote at 7:30 p.m.
“The sessions throughout the remainder of the day align with the theme of self-authorship and uplifting voices and perspectives that don't always get much attention,” said Stefani Vargas, coordinator of NMU's Student Equity and Engagement Center (SEEC) and UNITED. “Most are led by diverse Northern faculty, staff and alumni. We decided to keep those short—only 50 minutes, or about the same as an NMU class—with 10-minute breaks in between. And every morning session is repeated in the afternoon so people have two chances to catch a particular topic. We wanted to make this event more easily accessible so can pop in and out as their schedules allow.”
Vargas said SEEC student employees were helpful in offering feedback on what topics their peers would be most interested in learning about and putting up event posters in the community.
Former Wildcat volleyball player Callie Youngman and basketball player Kenton Mack will present “Creating a SEA (Supporting, Elevating, Activating) of Change for Social Justice in Athletics” at 9 a.m. They will also give separate presentations to NMU Athletics administrators and student-athletes.
The remaining UNITED sessions will address the following topics:
-Metamorphosis: Identities in the Language Classroom
-Imposter Syndrome: Learning to Speak Our Truth
-My Life with Language Deprivation
-Using Data to Tell a Story: LGBTQ+ Survey Research
-Interrogating Racism: Dismantling Barriers in the Classroom
-Fat Pedagogy: Challenging Anti-Fatness in Classroom Practices
-Critical Race Theory: A Personal Perspective
For the full schedule of presenters, times and locations, visit nmu.edu/united.
Media Contact for advance interviews or same-day coverage: Stefani Vargas, email@example.com.