It’s been an event-filled first year for Jennifer Jimenez Marana, the new director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (ODMA). Through hard work, strategic planning and collaboration with various groups, Marana, who prefers to go by Jennifer, has made her—and ODMA’s—presence on campus well known.
“I wanted to put out programs that would bring the community together,” she said. “I wanted the students to know that the office and that I was a resource.”
While programming was aimed towards the entire McDaniel community, Jennifer concentrated much of her energy at initiating activities and opportunities for students.
“It was really important to me to make it about the students—learning from them, listening to them. I needed to and still need to understand how this place works and what students needs are in order for my office to really support the community.”
Jennifer strived to find ways to gather feedback, to reach out to students and to enrich the community. Along with focus groups held throughout the year, the information gathered from which will be presented at a later date, there was a leadership retreat for the leaders of the multicultural clubs; collaborations on events with students, staff and faculty; and a revamping of the Sankofa mentoring program. Despite these numerous accomplishments and improvements, Jennifer sees her work as far from done.
“There’s always ways to improve things. [Sankofa is] the kind of thing I will continue to try to revamp and develop so then it continues to better meet the needs of students,” said Jennifer.
Concerns and needs will shift from year to year with the flux in interest of incoming students. The groundwork has been laid in this first year and ODMA will continue to build from this foundation.
“We see how the population of students is changing the institution and then how the institution is changing with them,” said Jennifer.
A crucial aspect in adapting to the shifting population will be feedback. One way to gather it will be by utilizing the information collected from the focus groups.
“We’ll use this as a springboard to gather more information,” Jennifer explained.
In addition to sparking discussions, Jennifer hopes to gain more feedback from anyone who is willing to share. It will be integral in the future growth of the office which next year plans to focus on professional development and workshops. There are also plans for a student leadership group structured like Green Terror Productions that would be able to facilitate discussions amongst students.
Said Jennifer, “What we really need to focus on is us.”