Oluwafemifola “Precious” Gbenjo is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. She is in her senior year and hopes to eventually travel to third-world countries to provide medical care.
Gbenjo was born in Nigeria, where her parents were born and raised, and came to the United States in 2000 when she and her family received a lottery visa. They were able to move anywhere in the U.S., and her parents chose Reno. She’s lived here ever since.
Even though she was born in Nigeria, she considers Reno to be her home.
Gbenjo became the Director of Diversity and Inclusion this year after working as a programmer for ASUN. During last year’s Unity Week, she saw people turn out to the events that normally didn’t come to the other events ASUN put on. She saw the need for these people to have their own events.
“I figured that I would be the best to step into that role and kind of take that on as my job.
Her job is to focus on under-represented groups on campus and to cater to their needs. She admits it can be difficult because her department umbrellas a wide range of people, but she is up to the challenge.
“Diversity is a very broad topic so I to the best of my ability want to capture all those elements of the campus because that’s what makes us diverse and that’s what makes us beautiful and that’s what makes us Nevada,” Gbenjo said.
The Department of Diversity and Inclusion was created by former ASUN President Brandon Boone last year, but while under his administration, it only had one officer to fufill the needs of students that it was created for. Current ASUN President Noah Teixeira made the decision to hire a staff for the department and thinks Gbenjo is the best person to run it.
“I trust that Precious is the best for diversity and inclusion on this campus, especially within ASUN,” said Teixeira.
Gbenjo has many goals as the director.
“My goals with this position is to really make the Department of Diversity and Inclusion known around campus,” said Gbenjo. “I want people to know the university and ASUN are making efforts to really, truly be diverse and inclusive to all peoples. My goal is really to improve the presence of diversity on this campus, to retain diverse members of the community and to enhance their college experience and to give them events you wouldn’t normally see normally on campus.”
She encourages people to speak to her about different ways her department can help them.
“I want people to feel safe coming to the Department of Diversity,” said Gbenjo. “I want us to be able to put on events and activities that cater to those needs. I want to listen to students.”
Gbenjo is studying psychology with a minor in chemistry. She particularly enjoys classes on multi-cultural psychology, which provides insight into countries outside the U.S. Her goal is to become a doctor and travel the world providing medical services to the under-developed countries she is learning about now.
She said the university has helped her toward achieving her goals by providing diverse classes and advisors that help guide her.
As the director of Diversity and Inclusion, she wants people to keep an open mind when it comes to issues that affect diverse groups of people.
“I know that certain issues may not affect everybody as much as they would some, but to just to be open about how a group may feel when things like Charlottesville happen and things like the acts of hatred,” said Gbenjo. “Just be open to knowing that there are people who are truly affected by these things, and that it stirs up fear in those students. Being an institution that claims diversity and inclusion, that should not be something that is happening. Students should not be afraid to go here and I think it is the job of administration, faculty, student leaders, everybody to really take initiative and stand against hatred, bigotry, fascism, any type of hatred in order to strive to an actually diverse campus.”
Madeline Purdue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.