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Kean University

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Are Focus of Kean Diversity Council High School Leadership Conference

A group of Kean students at the Diversity Council conference in a selfie.

Nearly 1,000 New Jersey middle and high school students developed action plans on diversity, equity, inclusion and access for their schools at Kean University’s recent Diversity Council on Global Education and Citizenship High School Leadership Conference.

Representing 43 schools, the students in grades 8 through 12 had the opportunity to present their diversity visions at the conference, held Friday, November 17 on Kean’s Union campus. The Diversity Council accepts completed action plans in April for consideration of a Fritz Jonach Award.

The conference theme, Defining Yourself, also provided a space for the teenagers to find their own identity without external pressures. They heard from keynote speaker Jamar Root, a 23-year-old Dallas-based motivational speaker whose podcast and YouTube show, Root of Everything, seeks to inspire followers to find their path in life by hearing about the lives of people who love what they do. Root shared life lessons from his own ups and downs and what he has learned from the people he’s interviewed.

“This conference and the year-round work of the Diversity Council are two of the many ways that Kean University works both to contribute to creating a more just world and to making Kean an anchor institution for the region,” said Kean Senior Vice President Felice Vazquez.

The Diversity Council presented 10 Joy Prescott Humanitarian Awards to 13 students and student groups for their efforts in the pursuit of social justice. The nominees, submitted by their teachers and administrators, are engaged in a variety of initiatives, including community service, interfaith leadership and dialogue, community activism and anti-racism outreach. 

The Diversity Council on Global Education and Citizenship collaborates with Kean’s College of Education and provides more than 130 member school districts and community organizations with professional development to empower educators to create safe, inclusive learning environments for all students.

It addition to the high school conference, the Council hosts annual elementary and middle school conferences and general assembly meetings that explore diversity-related themes including bullying, Holocaust and genocide education, civil rights and confronting human rights abuses.

For questions about Diversity Council programs, email Sarah Coykendall, managing assistant director, at