By Lauren McDonald email@example.com Feb 10, 2020
Quinton Staples holds a core belief that a college should not be a separated oasis in the middle of its hometown.
He feels a college should be an integral part of a community's fabric. That means ensuring that all parts of the community have the ability to succeed there.
This will be Staples' focus in his new role as the first director of diversity initiatives at College of Coastal Georgia.
Photo by Bobby Haven/The Brunswick News
Joining the college staff in January, Staples will work collaboratively across the campus and community to support the recruitment, retention and graduation of traditionally marginalized and underrepresented student populations.
His role is multi-faceted, and his focus will include campus programming, student support and retention, enrollment and community engagement.
"I'll be looking at increasing the visibility of our diversity on campus as it relates to gender, race and sexual orientation," Staples said.
Staples earned a bachelor's degree in strategic communications from Elon University and a Master of Education degree in student affairs administration and higher education from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.
Prior to working at the college, Staples worked in multicultural outreach and education at the University of South Florida in Tampa and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Staples will lead programming at CCGA for awareness months like Black History Month, Women's History Month, LBGTQ+ History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month.
These programs are meant to be fun but also educational, he said. He'll find ways to educate participants on actual experiences of underrepresented populations.
Staples will also focus on enhancing student success on campus as it relates to graduation and retention rates.
"I'll be looking at how do we as an institution best support our underrepresented student populations from the moment that they apply through graduation," he said. "I'll be helping to get them access to the right resources, getting them the support they need from a community standpoint, being able to reduce any barriers to their success."
He will delve into seeking out resources the college can provide and determining how the community can be a part of that support.
"That really is a big part of my charge, to be able to look at how do we move the needle on retention rates for our underrepresented populations," Staples said.
He said he will be approaching multiple groups, but his first will be African American men.
Research shows that African American men are often at the highest risk of dropping out, he said.
"How do we as an institution develop policies, procedures and practices to best make sure that they're successful so that they're not leaving with tons and tons of student debt and no degree?" he said.
Diversity work is about more than focusing only on underrepresented populations, Staples said.
"It's about creating an environment where those students can flourish at the same rate as our white students or as our affluent students," he said.
Students from marginalized groups are not less capable, he said. They just often face more challenges.
"They're just as smart, they're just as brilliant, they're just as capable, they're just as driven," Staples said. "But from a systematic standpoint, there are barriers to their success...based on race, based on gender."
Staples will also focus on community engagement to improve town-and-gown relationships with the college.
He encourages the community to reach out and help him learn the context within which he'll be doing this work.
"Let me know who you are," he said. "Let me know what your thoughts are on how we can build a bridge. Help me understand the history and the context."
A college should play a crucial role in its community, he said, just as CCGA does in the Golden Isles.
"I feel like it should be a part of a thriving community center because Brunswick is thriving and we're a part of that," he said.
Republished with the permission of The Brunswick News. Originally published in The Brunswick News.