By Sarah Carlon
This past fall, Simmons College welcomed Noha Elmohands as the new Director of Multicultural Student Affairs.
“My role as Director of Multicultural Student Affairs is to provide support to the student population at Simmons on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Elmohands said. “I also play a lead role in ensuring the success and retention of students from historically and systemically marginalized populations. I continuously work to create a vibrant community where all students feel welcomed, safe to be themselves, and empowered to make change.”
Elmohands, an eight year veteran of diversity, inclusion, and equity work, believes now more than ever that institutions such as Simmons College need to be aware of and informed on issues of diversity and equity.
She continued, “The world and the nation are changing drastically and higher educational institutions along with it. At the end of the day, the student populations are changing and all institutions hold a responsibility to support all students. That support should suit the needs of those specific student populations so that they may thrive.”
Elmohands was drawn to diversity and equity work because of her own experiences with higher education institutions that did not create an environment where all students felt welcome.
“I actually intended on becoming a veterinarian when I entered higher education,” she explained. “When I began experiencing painfully obvious discrimination at my institution, I subconsciously knew my purpose was to do equity work. I knew that I wanted to [continue] the legacy of changing higher education for the benefit of those who would come after me.”
Elmohands said that her decision to come to Simmons was mainly based on “the active role in which Simmons takes towards diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“I have been at other institutions where folks talk about changing issues at their campuses in regards to diversity but never take the necessary steps. I did my research and found the work of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Council, as well as the work that Lisa Smith-McQueenie had been doing already,” she said. “The second reason I came to Simmons was the warmth of the community I felt throughout my interview process.”
It is more crucial now than ever in a constantly changing society to be aware of the systems of oppression that exist throughout the world and to be informed on how to include diversity and equity into everyday life.
“Diversity, equity, and inclusion work benefits everyone. Our roles in higher education is to support students and to prepare them for the real world. To be frank, the world and this country is full of folks that come various backgrounds,” Elmohands explained. “Bell hooks states, ‘There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.’ Higher education is a tool of preparation for students to solve the real issues of society and every issue of society is linked to system of oppression.”