CSULB BUILD program helps their community adapt and thrive during the pandemic era

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As the 2020-2021 calendar continues to present twists and turns at just around every corner, it’s been quite the challenge to stay on top of all the moving pieces. However difficult, the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) BUILD community forged through those obstacles to  keep involved with its student and alumni groups, opening up the floor to needed conversations about national issues. From getting a head start on another socially distanced graduation for 2021 graduates, hosting an event to engage BUILD alumni, and even forming a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) team, the CSULB BUILD program continues to adapt and thrive during these challenging times.

Graduation 2021

It may seem that spring semester just started, but the CSULB BUILD staff is already planning for its second annual commencement ceremony, tentatively scheduled for May 7, 2021.

“After dealing with delayed mailing issues due to the pandemic last year, the BUILD team wanted to make sure that all outgoing students had their commemorative items ready for the virtual commencement ceremony,” said Enri’que Flores, CSULB BUILD program manager.

That’s why on February 13, a small group of staff and faculty conducted a drive-thru pickup station, where current BUILD Fellows and second year Scholars picked up their BUILD commencement items while remaining in their vehicles. Bags filled with a CSULB BUILD stole and pin were given out to members of the outgoing cohort.

“While the nation is still working on ways to safely open up schools and universities, we plan to do our best to keep our students’ big day as one to remember,” Flores said.

Alumni Engagement:

Heading into the seventh year of CSULB BUILD, staff and faculty began working on ways to engage more with the plethora of alumni who completed the program. Many have gone on to work in professional fields and others have continued their educational journey in graduate school. To stay connected with their alumni, the BUILD team decided to organize a virtual reunion.

The reunion was hosted on December 4, 2020 and had over 50 alumni, graduate mentors, staff, and faculty in attendance. Though an in-person event would have been preferred, the virtual event provided a safe space for familiar faces. Alumni reconnected with other members from their cohort and shared stories about their journeys outside of CSULB.

“While catching up with their latest life milestones through the social media lens is enjoyable, the CSULB BUILD team wanted to produce a more personal event,” Flores said. “Utilizing virtual spaces has allowed for more individuals to take part in events that they may not have been able to attend because of timing or cost of travel.”

With the success of the event, the staff and faculty are planning on producing more virtual alumni events in 2021.

CSULB BUILD Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Team:

With events of last year’s racial justice movements and the national conversation about systematic racism, CSULB BUILD members thought it was important to pause and reflect on what the program was doing to stand in solidarity. After addressing the topics with students and other members of the university, the CSULB BUILD team received feedback about the concerns and needs related to these topics. In response, they formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team comprised of CSULB BUILD staff and faculty.

“The team is focusing on providing safe spaces for individuals to continue conversations on issues such as systemic racism, anti-Black racism, diversity, and equity,” Flores said. Their hope is to continue accumulating resources that are available to anyone wanting to learn more about these issues.

“There is still much work that needs to be done, but the DEI Team is looking forward to continuing the movement towards national awareness and self-reflection,” Flores said.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
Need Assistance? Please contact our support team: info@diversityprogramconsortium.org .