An educator by training and passion, Elavie Ndura, Ph.D., has dedicated her life to being a leader in any capacity and doing her best to make the world a better place than she found it. Ndura is the new associate vice president for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) as of Jan. 4 and is looking to create a campus community where students, faculty and staff feel safe and supported.
“Humboldt State University really spoke to my core because of the vision,” Ndura said. “There are very few institutions around the United States and even the world that publicly affirm that they are committed to improving the human condition and the environment.”
Ndura said she hopes to improve the diversity, equity and inclusion work that is being done at HSU and “demonstrate that students from traditionally underrepresented groups thrive when they come to HSU.”
Growing up in a society where social injustice and inequity were rampant, Ndura said she had to fight back. She used poetry to express her views since speaking publicly was not safe. As she grew older and became a teacher, she viewed teaching as the ultimate tool and venue to really help transform systems through education.
By default, Ndura said she became a “diversity champion.” The subject of diversity has always been at the core of her research and writing.
From George Mason University to Gallaudet University and now HSU, Ndura learned that she has the skills, knowledge and the passion to do the work in diversity, equity, inclusion and multiculturalism.
“We need to do an even better job for communicating who we are
as a campus community. It’s not just the beautiful, stunning landscape,
it’s also a community that has people with a heart.”
Ndura prioritizes motherhood and sees herself as a mother before considering herself an educator or diversity officer. Some people refer to her by her African name, MamaStar, meaning “the mother of Star,” her son.
“Being an African-born person, that doesn’t mean the mother to my children only. It means the mother to all the youth, that’s a big difference,” Ndura said. “Every time I see a student on the street or on campus, for me, that’s my child. That’s the African ethic of family.”
She said that if anyone is in doubt their place in school or the community, contact MamaStar.
Goals for campus and community
With HSU’s and Arcata’s history of racism, Ndura said it’s okay for students to worry and ask questions, but that they are all here to transform history.
“We need to do an even better job for communicating who we are as a campus community. It’s not just the beautiful, stunning landscape, it’s also a community that has people with a heart,” Ndura said.
She envisions a community where every person is welcome, where every person feels that they belong in the county and the university. Ndura’s idea of a better world is one that is, “a little bit more inclusive, a little bit more forgiving, a little bit more equitable and fair, a little kinder and hopefully, less violent and more peaceful.
Ndura would like to add cross-cultural conversations to engage across different groups among the students, faculty and staff, work with partners to articulate a clear vision of “inclusive excellence.”
In the long term, she hopes to work with other partners, faculty, the University Senate, administration and the ODEI council to begin looking at some of the policies that need strengthening or changes to affirm diversity, equity and inclusion at HSU.
She speaks of a “genuine institutional commitment to DEI” and “putting money where our words are.”
“What I have learned is that as a Hispanic Serving Institution, yes, that’s good, but what more can we do to actually be intentional in supporting all our Latinx students? To increase retention, to increase degree completion,” Ndura said. “Who are we, yes diverse, so what? Diverse, yay. Now show it in the daylight.”
Photo courtesy of Elavie Ndura