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Unity in Diversity 2024 - Let’s Unite for Graduate Education!

Members of the University's Graduate Student Association discuss the upcoming Unity in Diversity celebration and take a look at years past

In 2020, the emergence of Covid-19 posed significant challenges in community gathering for numerous organizations at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Graduate Student Association (GSA), which serves to promote the welfare and interests of the graduate students on campus, was hit hardest in large-scale community events, such as Unity in Diversity (UiD). UiD is an annual gathering of diverse peoples, orchestrated by the GSA to promote unity by fostering understanding and appreciation of cultural differences. The importance of diversity is evident in our graduate student population, which is represented by at least 61 different countries! And we are honored by and proud of our graduate diversity! The GSA also takes pride in fostering a sense of connection among students through various clubs, catering to academic interests, identities, hobbies, ethnicities and cultures. But it is our annual UiD gathering that brings everyone together to understand and celebrate our differences. This annual event holds great significance for the GSA as it celebrates the diversity not only present on our campus but also within our local Reno-Sparks community.

Fortunately, last year marked the triumphant return of UiD after the disruptions caused by Covid-19. UiD 2023 was held in the Joe Crowley Student Union, Gateway Plaza on April 22, Earth Day. To honor the University’s Wolf Pack Rising 2023 - 2027 Strategic Plan Goal 5 of “making Silver & Blue the New Green,” UiD 2023 extended the focus of the event to include the critical need to raise environmental awareness and help change our impact on the Earth. The event featured an inspiring performance showcase with over 33 acts from community and university individuals and organizations. The program was rich with inspirational speakers such as Nevada System of Higher Education Regents Carol Del Carlo & Jeffrey Downs, Reno's Chief Equity & Community Relations Officer Cynthia Esparza, Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Jeffrey S. Thompson, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School Markus Kemmelmeier, Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Daniel Enrique Pérez, inspirational speaker Meh Acevedo, and City of Reno Ward 2 Councilwoman Naomi Duerr. Councilwoman Duerr even honored the GSA with an official proclamation for Earth Day!

The event achieved resounding success by not only fundraising for graduate student scholarship, but also raising $1000 for Great Basin Resource Watch & $400 for River Justice, two indigenous-led organizations focused on powerful advocacy for our water, land and air. The GSA wanted to thank each of these organizations for their hard work and support of our community! Of course, the event would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our many internal sponsors, such as President Sandoval, the Provost’s Office, the College of Science, the College of Liberal Arts, and the University Libraries. As well as our many community donors such as Men’s Apparel, Mesa Rim, Peppermill Resort Casino, Grand Sierra Resort and Jada Loft Boutique, just to name a few. With much help from our dedicated volunteers, members of GSA and the Graduate Student Alumni Chapter (GSAC), and others, Unity in Diversity was finally reawakened!

This year's program promises to be a vibrant celebration of culture and diversity, featuring live performances, a silent auction, and a delightful array of free local food representing various ethnicities and cultures. UiD 2024 will host a diverse lineup of speakers, university and local community clubs, organizations, non-profits, businesses, vendors and sponsors.

Save the date for this year’s event on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., taking place in Nightingale Concert Hall & Church Fine Arts Foyer on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. You can find all details and the program for the event in our EventBrite Unity in Diversity 2024. Tickets are set at two price points. They are free with University ID or GSAC membership. General Admission is $10, 100% of which will go directly to support student scholarships. Attendance is limited to room capacity, so reserve your ticket today! And follow us on our social media and on Eventbrite to keep up to date on all releases of the UiD 2024 program.

This year, we aim to replicate the success of last year’s fundraising by introducing a silent auction to benefit graduate student scholarships. Funding for GSA's programming primarily comes from graduate student fees, supporting a diverse range of programs and services such as need-based services, scholarships and awards, club support, training sessions/workshops, and social events. With the recent increase in tuition, service and housing fees, graduate students are facing hard financial times ahead. We ask for our university and local community for help! Our online silent auction is proudly provided by our generous sponsors. Check back regularly for new items. The Silent Auction will end promptly at 7 p.m. on March 13, with winners announced at the end of our program. Bidding will directly support graduate programming! You can also support graduates outright through a donation to the GSA General Account.

Let’s unite together to change the lives of graduate students, we hope to see you at Unity in Diversity 2024!

About the authors

Allison Ferguson: Allison is originally from Alabama and completed her B.S. in Human Services/Criminal Justice from Troy University, and a M.S. in Justice Management from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2017. Allison is currently pursuing a M.S. in Elementary Education and has been a staff member of the Graduate Student Association since 2016.

Taissa Lytchenko: Taissa started her higher education at Truckee Meadows Community College and finished her Bachelor’s in Psychology in May 2017 at the University of Nevada, Reno. Currently, she serves as the External Vice President of the Graduate Student Association and Representative of the College of Science.

Allison Ferguson and Taissa Lytchenko
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