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Chicago is gonna be Ballin’: Dhiraj Chand

February 15, 2010

Hey Team.  My name is Dhiraj Chand and I am currently studying Communication, Gender Studies and Ethnic Studies at the University of Utah… that right UTAH!  I originally grew up in Los Angeles, California and from there, my family moved to Centerville, Utah.

Random stuff I like: cooking (curry,) shopping (I am an addict,) fashion, clubs, dancing, music (pop, broadway, hiphop, top40, r&b), reading (I am a prod member of Oprah’s Book Club,) standup comedy, watching the news (and by news I mean E! Entertainment and Access Hollywood), Indian Movies – Bollywood, Broadway musicals – live theatre,  social justice-y type events, apple stuff,  and more.

I am passionate about social justice, equity and community activism!  With that I ultimately want to pursue a career in higher education focusing on Critical Race Theory scholarship and praxis.  I hope to influence the paradigm in which these issues are addressed.

As I reflect on my academic journey, I have a deep sense of gratitude for those who have mentored, supported and challenge me to become the person I am today.  My personal and professional passion has been rooted in community success and empowerment through a deep understanding of equity and social justice, a holistic understanding of issues within the community, and positive educational journey that creates opportunities for advocacy.  At the core, this is what I feel the legacy of the NASPA Conference is!  An opportunity to engage, empower and enrich the live of individuals who are passionate about ‘being the movement’ and cultivating change.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be apart of this!

When I first learned about the NASPA conference, through our University of Utah NUFP chapter, I knew I had to get involved.  My mentors and former students who attended the conference last year shared with me the many professional and personal development opportunities that the conference offered. They informed me that the conference is a space where knowledge is created and the opportunity to create positive impact is cultivated.  This of course excites me!!  As mentioned before, I am incredibly passionate about social justice struggle to find opportunities that will actively engage this.  I think the NASPA conference will allow me a space to freely and critically talk about these issues as well as develop useful tools that will foster equity for all.

I plan on attending sessions that will both affirm and support my identities and also challenge my privilege and allow me to think in new ways.  In addition to the NUFP Undergraduate Pre-conference, I will be attending session that focuses on social justice activism and equity.  This has always been a central passion of mine.  I see a huge need for more critically engages social justice scholars/activists in higher education.  Privilege and race are early ever talked about and when it is mentioned, it is quickly de-centered.  I want to develop skills that will enable me to challenge this to steward legacy of justice and the movement equity for.

Some of the personal goals I have are:

  1. connect with and learn from other student activist / critically engaged scholars
  2. connect with individuals who are committed to creating change
  3. attend session that will challenge me in new ways
  4. co-present, along with my fellow NUFP colleagues & mentors, a workshop on ‘Cultivating Student-led Social Justice Initiatives on a Prodominantly White Campus’
  5. volunteer and attend conference events that will allow me an opportunity learn more about NASPA and the behind the scene making of a conference
  6. develop skills that will help me in my professional and academic career
  7. learn about new epistemologies and pedagogies that work to challenge/dismantle systems of institutional/societal privilege
  8. help create knowledge in developing ideas and action plans to inform the work we do back at home

In addition, I look forward to the opportunity to co-present a workshop with my NUFP colleagues and mentors from the University of Utah.  The NASPA Conference without doubt will be transformational to my academic and professional education.  I am confident that that this experience will provide critical knowledge and valuable tools that will further enable me to serve my university and enrich the larger community.

Lastly, I want to be sure and thank Sodexo Education and NASPA for their strong commitment to academic excellence and their generous stipend.  I would also like to express my appreciation for support to the many offices at the University of Utah (Student Affairs, Associated Students of the University of Utah, and Assistant Vice President for Academic Outreach – Theresa Martinez) who contributed in creating this opportunity for me.  And finally I want to thank my wonderful mentors (Lori, Kari, Deb, Cathy, Betty, Richard, Pablo) and fellow NUFP colleagues (Mariana, Yamila, Wendolens) for always being a source for support and guidance both academically and personally.   Thanks Team.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Viraj permalink
    February 15, 2010 11:49 am

    Hey Dhiraj,
    Thanks for sharing your story with the interwebs! As a NUFP Alum, and someone who is passionate about my own Ethnic Studies education, Bollywood, and music (and the intersection of those!) , I’m super excited to meet you at the NASPA Conference! Good luck on your presentation and I am sure I will see you in Chicago!

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