CALS Students Attend Conference on Race and Ethnicity

By Ellen Bombela, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

Home, holistic, healing. These are some of the words that Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky used to describe the annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE).

Martinez-Podolsky, the multicultural liaison officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has attended NCORE meetings for the past four years, and went again this year with a group of students from the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The conference offered a national forum that addresses issues of race and ethnicity in American higher education. The conference focused on creating and sustaining comprehensive institutional change to improve racial and ethnic relations on college campuses and expand opportunities for educational success according to NCORE website.

Martinez-Podolsky, along with Theressa Cooper, the assistant dean for diversity, took eight students to New Orleans for the conference this year. Before the conference, Martinez-Podolsky said she was excited to share the experience with students.

“Every time I go to NCORE it feels like I’m surrounded by amazing words and people. It’s such a healing space for me,” Podolsky said. “I hope students feel the same way. I hope they can take in all the great messages, network with amazing people and be inspired to learn more about something that they might not have known before.”

The conference included speakers, workshops, theater, poetry, music and dancing. One of the speakers that Martinez-Podolsky was looking forward to seeing was Michael Benitez, Jr., who is an Iowa State graduate.

“He is an amazing speaker and I’ve seen him speak many times,” Martinez-Podolsky said. “He talks about everything from masculinity to Latinx culture to embracing who you are.”

Taylor Hintch is one of the students that went this year. Hintch, a senior in global resource systems, and other members of the (LEAD IT) Leaders Enhancing Agriculture, Diversity, Inclusion and Trust, Collective attended the conference. Before going to the conference, Hintch said she was excited for what it had to offer.

“I want to build my personal and professional experiences at NCORE to better address issues at Iowa State and grow as an individual,” Hintch said. “NCORE is an incredible learning opportunity and it seems like a very valuable experience.”