University of Houston-Victoria

Student Life

2021 Virtual RISE Diversity Conference

Via Microsoft Teams
Saturday, April 24, 2021


Our keynote speaker for this year’s virtual conference is Lamarr Womble, a nationally recognized youth motivational speaker, passion ignitor and school leadership expert. Lamarr believes that “when students are in action around their passions, they believe their dreams can become reality”. Lamarr’s keynote, Empathy through Inclusion, will allow young people and professionals to find empowerment within their own identities.

Breakout Workshops

The conference provides engaging workshops and programs aimed at increasing students’ knowledge and understanding of their own culture and the culture of others. Improvement in these areas enhance students’ ability to effectively engage and work with diverse populations.


Schedule of Events

10:00 a.m. — Welcome Address

10:15 a.m. — Break #1

10:30 a.m. — Workshops A

Dr. Aaron Deason – Mental Health and Communication
All people have mental health. Daily interactions with others, self, and environment affect the mental health. This presentation will discuss and give strategies to manage mental health. 

Tiarah Figueroa, Rebecca Lake, and Amina Patton– The Future of Diversity and Equity at UHV 
The presentation will be from the co-chairs of the UHV Diversity and Race Task Force to discuss the draft objectives and recommendations for the strategic plan that will be delivered at the end of the semester. We want the presentation to not only serve as a share out but an opportunity for students to directly impact the future of diversity and equity at UHV through their feedback and insights.

Dr. Abran Rodriguez – Lighting Your Path: Strategies for Creating Connections and Affirming Spaces from a BIPOC/LGBTQIA+ Professor 
Participants will learn strategies to create and maintain an affirming space for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals. Attendees will learn techniques for building rapport and connection with individuals who have different worldviews. Participants will learn the significance of historical BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ social justice events and how to use them as a platform for justice. 

11:15 a.m. — Break #2

11:30 a.m. — Workshops B

Alvaro De la Cruz Jr. – Race, Inclusion, and Social Equity Town Hall 
A Safe Space discussion to share personal experiences, either positive or negative, within the University or the City of Victoria or Texas relating to being a BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ individuals and discuss how to begin to create spaces and places on our campus where we feel welcomed and seen. This workshop allows students to engage in a much-needed dialogue about how we can move forward as change agents for our campus and beyond. 

Dr. Nicole Eugene – SlideSecret: Turning Fears into Opportunities for Connecting and Supporting 
This presentation will introduce students to the international multimedia project called Post Secret, which involves strangers sharing intimate secrets anonymously via creative post cards they create and share. Many of the secrets deal with fears that are common yet are hard to share with others for fear of stigma and negative judgements. This workshop will give students an opportunity to discuss their fears or secrets about prejudice, classes, peers, relationships, money, and the future to potentially receive support from peers and other attendees. 

Jesse Pisors – The Power to Include 
This session will help participants reflect on and explore ways that they can use their unique power, position, and identity to include others who may be marginalized or otherwise excluded in certain contexts. It is a joyful, positive, and powerful feeling to lift and empower others by including them. Each of us has the power to include others who are excluded, and we can make the world a better place by using that power whenever the opportunity presents itself. 

12:15 p.m. — Lunch Break

12:45 p.m. — Keynote Speaker

Lamarr Womble - Empathy for Inclusion 
A world that so often forces us to choose between a binary, like black and white, leads us to miss the reality that our society is gray. Empathy through Inclusion will allow young people and professionals to find empowerment within their own identities. This session will also provide language that gives attendees grace about their own experiences and understanding of those who have opposing views. Empathy is a skill, and it can be taught. When we prepare our society for the gray areas, we are preparing for a more empathetic, compassionate, and understanding world! 

1:30 p.m. — Break #3

1:45 p.m. — Workshops C

Dr. Humberto Hernandez – Hispanic Culture Awareness and First-Generation College Students
There are a number of struggles that minority, first-generation college students face. I will touch on my personal experience, sacrifices,   and struggles I faced as a first-generation college student. The aim of this presentation is to motivate students to achieve their dreams      and goals, regardless of background.

Michael Wilkinson and Rais'a Wilkinson – Matching Hearts: Using Our Relationship as A Platform To Create Spaces Where Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Are Valued 
In this presentation, we will discuss our lived experiences as an interracial couple and how we have used them to enhance and influence the lives of others. Join us as we explore how diversity, equity, and inclusion have impacted our core values and how it has helped us build meaningful relationships across the board. 

Lamarr Womble – Keynote Address Q&A 
Do you have questions for our keynote speaker? If so, join him after his keynote address where he will answer any follow up questions. 

2:30 p.m. — Break #4

2:45 p.m. — Student Panel

Andra Ebere, Makayla Hare, Jaira Jenkins, and Cassandra Ward – Diversity Dialogue with Student Leaders 
Join us as we get to know student organization leaders of multicultural organizations. Students share their areas of responsibility on campus, and discuss the importance of creating diverse and inclusive opportunities for students from their personal experiences at UHV. Lastly, they will have time to take questions from participants during the session. 

3:30 p.m. — Feedback Groups

Frederica Amfo – If your last name begins with A-E

Cesar Gonzalez – If your last name begins with F-J

Yesenia Gutierrez – If your last name begins with K-O

Jaira Jenkins – If your last name begins with P-T

Eliamani Juma – If your last name begins with U-Z

3:45 p.m. — Closing Address