Diversity advocate assists minority students with questions, challenge

October 04, 2004

University Park, Pa. -- Denise Hinds-Zaami, the new Diversity Advocate at Penn State, sees herself as a wearer of many hats in order to help minority students at the University Park campus. And she is enjoying herself immensely.

"I see my roles range from confidant, inspirational guide, catalyst, provider of information and encouragement coach to facilitator, educator and advocate," said Hinds-Zaami. "I want to see Penn State students shine with confidence and success when mastering their academic course work, when negotiating different systems on campus, when tackling social and political realities they find, and when confronted with personal challenges. It can be gratifying to know that you're not alone and that others do care."

Her responsibilities includes coordinating the Report Hate Web site and the Zero Tolerance for Hate Support Network, key programs supported by the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, as well as serving as a counselor with the Multicultural Resource Center, which serves students on the University Park campus.

Although only on campus since late summer, the diversity advocate has been meeting with and listening to students, responding to e-mails and exploring concerns from students. "Sometimes, interactions between a student and a staff or faculty member are simply the result of misunderstandings or a lack of knowledge about a process, but they are interpreted as insensitivity," Hinds-Zaami said. "But sometimes, some actions do result from bias and I will work to find resolution."

She has attended many meetings, rallies and retreats; learned about the many units at the University; and presented ideas and ideals to various groups.

"Collaboration is the key, where I see many groups working toward the same goals," Hinds-Zaami noted.

A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., she has earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from City College of New York, a master's degree in social work from Columbia University, a master's degree in psychology from University of Texas at Austin and an doctor of education degree from Seton Hall University.

She has been employed at Hunter College, Medgar Evers College, Metropolitan College, Wagner College, The University of Texas, Hispanic International University and The Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Her accomplishments include serving as president of The New York Association of Black Psychologists twice; and as a member of The National Association of Social Workers, Psi Chi (Honor Society in Psychology), and Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education. She founded The Moveable School in 2003, an after-school program for children and adults of all ages, supplementing their regular school schedules while meeting every few weeks in a different place, with a different family presentation and topic on the agenda.

Last Updated July 28, 2017