The Center on Diversity and Community (CoDaC) has assembled a panel of award winning research for a cross disciplinary panel on Cultural Diversity, Equity, and Access. Speakers T. Audrey Medina (Counseling Psychology), Leilani Sabzalian (Education), and Francesco Somaini (Media Studies) will each present research that touches on diversity and inclusion within each of their respective fields.  Each student is a recipient of the CoDaC Summer Research Award.  Watch the Cultural Diversity, Equity, and Access panel from 3:15-4:15pm on Friday, March 7 in the EMU Oak Room.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that “women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination.” Prompted by this injustice, Audrey Medina has been examining the empowerment processes of women with disabilities, starting by interviewing 21 women with disabilities from 21 countries who attended Mobility International’s Seventh International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) in August 2013.

“I’d like to advance the idea that disability as a condition of bodies and minds is a complex and pervasive, rather than an essentially pathological, aspect of human difference,” Audrey explained. As themes emerge, Audrey hopes to generate theories about models and metaphors that fit the empowerment process, about the relationship of empowerment to identity salience, and about the role of contexts, supports, and barriers in participants’ leadership experiences.

Leilani Sabzalian will present her work on both the constructive elements and the unintended consequences of the urban Title VII program in Oregon. The study will identify what educators need to understand in order to work with Indigenous students and families to minimize the cultural and personal costs of those dynamics. Ultimately, Leilani hopes to highlight the voices of Native students.

“Sadly, Native students are often educated within a system and by teachers who view them as a problem, as a challenge to overcome,” Leilani said. “I hope that my research contributes to shifting the conversation away from deficit theories about Native students and their families, to moments where their voices, insights, and experiences should be given serious consideration.”

Francesco Somaini’s research looks into the similarities between the reactions of the U.S. and the E.U. to immigration issues. Both countries have reacted with more severe immigration policies that have first been elaborated regionally instead of at the national or supranational level. At the center of nurturing anxieties is the news media, who have “justified” stricter immigration policies, particularly by perpetuating dehumanizing representations of immigrants. Francesco’s research examines the similarities and differences in how immigration coverage in Arizonan and Italian news coverage portrays immigration issues.

See the entire abstracts for this session at

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