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Diversity expert talks with student-athletes

The University of Toledo’s student-athletes, coaches and Athletic Department staff members were treated to a presentation on diversity and inclusivity by motivational speaker and educator Dr. Derek Greenfield on Thursday evening.

The interactive discussion promoted diversity, cultural competence and inclusive excellence; it was part of the Mid-American Conference’s 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Program and sponsored by the Student-Athlete Academic Services Office.

Motivational educator Dr. Derek Greenfield talked about diversity Oct. 12 in Savage Arena.

More than 200 student-athletes filled the stands at Savage Arena as they engaged in interactive discussion on promoting diversity, cultural competence, and inclusive excellence.

During the program, the student-athletes broke up into small groups or talked as one large crowd, and by the end of the night a lot of laughs, tears and hugs were shared between all in attendance.

“I was blown away by Dr. Greenfield’s presentation and the powerful message,” said Jillian Lehman, coordinator for student-athlete development. “To see our student-athletes share so many emotions and come together to support one another was a very meaningful and uplifting experience. Hopefully, this togetherness can continue throughout the semester and year because if students are themselves, it will only make the Rocket family better, as Dr. Greenfield puts it.”

“The presentation was life-changing,” women’s basketball freshman Tatyana Davis said. “I was glad to experience this with all UT student-athletes and my teammates. We are planning to have more discussion as a team to continue to support each other.”

Senior football player Cody Thompson called the presentation “one of the most amazing experiences in my life.”

Greenfield said he hoped the group learned “the spirit of inclusive excellence” from his visit.

“That when people can be who they are, they’re better, and when they’re better, we’re better. That we know about each other and we can support each other. As a result, we can perform better on the court or in the classroom and in life,” he said. “This is an amazing family. Hopefully, by breaking down a few of those walls, they came closer together and realized how amazing we can be if we support each other with love.”

Greenfield’s powerful keynotes and workshops on issues such as diversity and inclusion, motivation, team building, student development and innovative pedagogy have been featured at a wide range of conferences, companies and colleges. Prior to his full-time speaking career, Greenfield spent more than 20 years as a college professor and administrator. He most recently served in the chief diversity officer role at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss.