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We sat down with Amber Bradley, EdD, the Academy’s senior academic advisor to learn more about her new role as assistant director of inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA). As the go-to mentor for Academy students through their journey to graduation, Amber shares her vision to foster spaces for conversation around inclusion, diversity and equity.
Our students know you so well as their student advisor. Tell us a little more about your new role as assistant director of IDEA?
My new role was created to spearhead all of the inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) efforts for the Academy. I participate in and advise on the school’s recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups at the student, faculty and staff levels. I work with school and central Student Affairs, Faculty Affairs and HR to develop recruitment strategies that attract underrepresented applicants. I provide oversight of existing K-12/pipeline initiatives and work to develop and implement new programs and initiatives that increase access for unrepresented populations to USC and other 4-year institutions that offer degrees focused on arts and technology entrepreneurship. I provide strategic direction for training on cultural competency, gender differences, disability, sexual harassment, building a climate of equity and inclusion, and other topics designed to increase awareness and support of equity and inclusion values. I ensure we are in compliance with applicable laws in collaboration with school and university stakeholders.
What are some misconceptions about diversity and inclusion?
I think some people think about diversity in a narrow scope (i.e. only looking at diversity through the lens of ethnicity and not at all the ways you can diversify a program or faculty or staff). Diversity means being inclusive. Inclusion means everyone. I think another problem is people don't really know the definitions of these two terms, or don't know how to define it for what it means to them or for them.
What's your vision for IDEA and how it relates to the Academy community?
My vision for IDEA is to create brave spaces for students, staff and faculty to converse about difficult or challenging topics. My goal is to strategize a way to increase the number of students of color that apply to our undergraduate program. As I grow in this position and within our school, I hope that my vision too, will grow and adapt and become what the school needs.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
In life, things may not always work out how you planned it, but it will always work out how it's supposed to. Allow yourself to feel and embrace the emotions, you are human. Once you're ready, pick yourself up, dust off those shoulders, do your favorite dance, straighten that crown, and realize that you were destined for greatness.
Favorite hobby/or side hustle?
I love to dance! I've been dancing/cheering since the age of 9 and danced professionally for 4 years and cheered professionally for 5 years. I'm also a huge foodie! My favorite thing to do of all time is travel! I love exploring new cities, towns, and countries.