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CLEMSON – It was Clemson University’s land grant mission that drew Director of Diversity Education Moryah Jackson to campus. The belief that bettering the lives of its citizens makes South Carolina stronger is one of the driving forces in her life.
“I love the work the University is doing across the state and the nation. To see that Clemson is leading the way in terms of diversity and inclusion motivates me every day,” she said during an interview in her immaculately maintained office in Brackett Hall. “As a land grant institution, we’re here to make the state of South Carolina stronger. Any time that we build authentic relationships across differences, we’re doing that, and in turn we’re making our country and our world stronger.”
As the DDE, Jackson’s job is to promote and enhance cultural competencies across the University community with the design and implementation of training modules, workshops, presentations, programs and services that foster effective, inclusive pedagogy and learning environments.
“Moryah’s role as Inclusion and Equity’s director of diversity education is essential to building a high performing diverse university environment, where robust learning and engagement flourishes,” said Lee Gill, Chief Inclusion Officer and Special Assistant to the President for Inclusive Excellence. “Her work is a key element to the University’s ClemsonForward success.”
Jackson says one of her goals is to get people to understand that “diversity” applies to everyone.
“Whenever I start a conversation in workshops around diversity and inclusion, it’s so important people know that everyone is included in that conversation,” she said. “Context matters. Usually the first thing that comes to peoples’ minds when they hear about diversity is race, but there are so many dimensions to diversity. We have gender, veteran status, ethnicity, age, physical and mental ability, income, sexual orientation, and so on—everybody is included in that definition. That’s why it’s so important to help people understand empathetic listening and developing authentic relationships so we can really get to know people as individuals. Once we do that, it makes everybody stronger.”
Jackson was born in Hampton, Virginia and relocated to Columbia when she was in high school. She went to Columbia College, working full-time to put herself through, and earned a degree in public affairs in 2004—becoming the first member of her family to graduate college. She went on to earn an MPA from the University of South Carolina in 2006.
About a year ago, a Clemson University recruiter reached out and asked if she’d be interested in the new position.
She was. The thought of working with Clemson students greatly appealed to her, because her own college experience had been life-changing.
“I’m really passionate about working with students because I’m a first-generation college graduate, and my time at Columbia College made a significant impact on me,” she explained, noting that one of the highlights of her college career was getting to study abroad in the Czech Republic.
“That really expanded my view of the world and my place in it. When I realized that education opens so many doors, I knew I wanted to help other students have doors open for them as well.”
Jackson says that inclusion and equity are essential primarily because it’s simply the right thing to do; “We should care about each other and want everybody’s voice at the table.”
But it’s also important, she says, because the world is changing so rapidly.
“There are problems that we need to solve that we don’t even know exist,” she said. “Technology is changing, the world is changing, transportation is changing—we really need everybody’s perspective, knowledge, and expertise to stay on top of it all. When you have multiple people working on an issue, and you have that one common goal, it makes it better for everybody.”
Her love for all Clemson students drives her and keeps her motivated. The undergraduate and graduate students here are top notch, she says, and it’s invigorating to work with them on a daily basis.
“They are future leaders, so it’s great to be involved in their lives and help them accomplish their goals. To be a part of their journey is really powerful and motivating for me. I love being in this environment.”
Jackson and her husband David, an accountant, have two sons: Alex, 14 and Aiden, 11. She says they’re “usually on the soccer field” in their spare time, but she also loves to read (at least 12 books a year). She also loves to travel and has so far explored four continents (North America, Europe, Africa and Asia) and the family is planning a trip to South America in 2020.
Lately, she’s been researching how to pursue a private pilot’s license to challenge herself and open up new opportunities for adventure.
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