DEI Champion Spotlight: Maria Perez-Colón

The DEI Champion Spotlight features Rowan community members who are leading the way in DEI initiatives across campus. Champions featured in the spotlight serve as a great example of how DEI can be reflected throughout the campus. Meet Maria Perez-Colón, Assistant Director-Academics in the Henry. M. Rowan College of Engineering.

A student nominated Maria Perez-Colón, stating: "Maria Perez-Colón does her best to instill comfort and inclusion to all of her students. Ms. Perez-Colón is both encouraging and accepting of all students, regardless of their background. She works incredibly hard to ensure that her students are given equal opportunities and resources to succeed in both their academics and personal lives. There is never a day that Ms. Perez-Colón's door is not open to every type of student, trying her best to be committed to DEI leadership. Also involved in which First Generation college students, Maria Perez-Colon knows what it is like to be minoritized and does her best to ensure equal opportunity to every student she meets. I have never met a more driven and hardworking individual like herself!

Maria Perez-Colón

Maria Colon  

Tell us about yourself:

I currently serve as Assistant Director-Academics in the College of Engineering, where I coordinate advising for first- and second-year engineering students and also serve as advisor. I have been at Rowan University since 2003.  Prior to coming to Rowan, I held administrative positions at Rutgers University-Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Thomas Edison State College, and worked as a paralegal in New York City. At Rowan, I have served on various university task forces, union and senate committees, Flying First Task Force and mentored in the Harley Flack Mentorship program. On a personal level, I have served as a Camden County literacy volunteer.

The positions I’ve held at these companies and institutions encompassed a variety of functions, responsibilities and tasks. Yet, there was a commonality with these positions for which I am grateful—the opportunity to interact with and get to know people from diverse populations. These experiences enriched my perspective and helped me grow in an understanding and appreciation of people outside of my own “bubble”.  Over the years, I’ve realized that this growth is not finite. It is a life-long process that involves exploration and education. This is where the work of DEI comes in.

Why is DEI Work Important? 

The work of DEI at Rowan is invaluable, especially when we consider the role of higher education in helping young adults develop and grow in self-identity and social consciousness. These initiatives also reassure students of all backgrounds that their institution values them and will protect their freedoms. It is not only students who benefit from DEI initiatives. Faculty and staff are also afforded opportunities for professional development and cultural exploration, in addition to having a forum in which to contribute and be part of the conversation.

Even when we don’t have time to attend scheduled events and activities, there is much we can do on a day to day basis that demonstrates appreciation of diversity, promotes equity, and exemplifies inclusion.  Sometimes it’s the little things—taking an interest in a cultural exhibit on your way to or from a class or meeting, taking the time to ask someone how to correctly pronounce their uncommon name, speaking slowly to help a non-native English speaker understand the conversation—that make a big difference.

DEI Resources you would like to share: 

A few social media accounts I follow: @latashamorrison; @blackcoffeewithwhitefriends; @BAbridgebuilder