diversity and the American Dream

Diversifying the American Dream — Why Your Voice Belongs at the Leadership Table

Throughout America, historically marginalized communities are gaining unprecedented workforce and media visibility. While this is progress worth celebrating, endless opportunities to elevate diverse voices remain. For example, in corporate America, a baffling 83% of senior managers are Caucasian. Factor in that only 57% of the US population identifies as white, and you’ll find yourself facing a disturbing truth: at the leadership level, the diversity and breadth of the American experience is critically underrepresented.

It isn’t just senior managers, either. Unfortunately, this far-reaching phenomenon is present in virtually every professional field. Consider the education sector, where a mere 20% of administrators aren’t white. The same unsettling situation looms in healthcare, where only 5% of doctors identify as Black.

By embracing diverse leaders and decision-makers, our country paves the way for an inclusive, dynamic future. Better still, by choosing to pursue a leadership role, you can make an immediate and positive impact. At University of Bridgeport, our diverse campus culture and supportive school community will help you grow into the inspirational changemaker you were always meant to be. Read on to learn why we need your voice at the table now more than ever.

Envisioning an Equitable American Dream

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: with the right combination of willpower and drive, every American can advance their personal, professional, and financial wellbeing.

For over a century, the notion of the American Dream has inspired generations of ambitious patriots. Although the ideal was initially equated with national progress, the concept became highly individualized. As it stands, the American Dream speaks less to national pride and more to personal and generational success. Over the years, this American ideal has fallen under scrutiny, with its historic beneficiaries highlighting clear favorites. Many have cast the Dream off as a myth, and It’s easy to see why. For some, the “American Dream” is all but set in stone. For many others, however, it is more easily imagined than achieved.

Doubting the achievability of the American Dream is often a direct product of privilege. While the path to success remains clear for Caucasian, heterosexual, and non-disabled men, countless other dreamers embark on their journey only to find a path riddled with obstacles and pitfalls. In a society that caters to the wants and needs of privileged populations, factors such as racial identity, poverty, and gender all play their roles in determining just how accessible this theoretical “Dream” is.

Diversifying the American Dream

Before you find yourself feeling too jaded, remember that your power is greater than you think. Thanks to the voices and actions of diverse Americans, corporations and organizations are increasingly taking the initiative to prioritize inclusion.

Catering to clients is pivotal to ensuring a company’s continuous success, and American consumers aren’t only becoming more diverse. They’re also becoming more astute. With generations of young people attuned to diverse perspectives, the companies that embrace a rich breadth of American identities are finding favoritism with younger populations. The internet has aided this progress, making it easier for consumers to share their concerns, priorities, and expectations. Consequently, more organizations are being held accountable for inclusion, equity, and diverse representation.

At UB, we believe that your perspective matters. Learning and growing in an environment that reflects the diversity of human experience is essential to your growth and future success. With 50+ student activities and endless opportunities for on-campus involvement, UB supports your personal and professional development — helping you find and command your unique voice.

Reasonable Representation

Although advocacy helps hold organizations accountable, representation plays an indispensable role in redefining the American Dream. The positive effects of diverse representation aren’t limited to the present moment. When you earn a leadership role, you gain the potential to inspire a rippling wave of change.

Take, for example, the vital role educators play in ensuring equitable representation in their classrooms. When expanding their classroom libraries, modern teachers adopt an inclusive approach — providing young readers with “windows,” “mirrors,” and “sliding doors.” Though this practice was first suggested by educator and activist Emily Style, the idea was expanded upon by multicultural education specialist Rudine Sims Bishop.

The symbolism informing this philosophy is strong but simple. While “windows” help readers understand diverse cultures and identities, “mirrors” positively reflect and represent elements of the readers’ own identity. “Sliding doors” takes this concept a step further — placing readers in the perspectives of characters with identities unlike their own. Experiencing stories from diverse perspectives helps young readers develop empathy, cultural understanding, and compassion. Moreover, it serves to remind readers that we’re all united by similar values, dreams, and desires.

Although inclusive literature might motivate new goals and aspirations, nothing makes a difference quite like real-life representation. This plays out daily in the public school system. Despite the fact that less than half of all American school children identify as white, nearly 80% of teachers are Caucasian. When you factor in the disproportionate punishment and suspension of Black students, a troubling bias becomes ever more apparent.

Combatting Biases and Supporting Students’ Dreams

When reflecting on what makes UB stand out as an institution of higher education, Dr. Jaria Aljoe, UB’s Assistant Provost for Student Management, reiterated that inclusive representation is critical for students of all ages. “Our faculty and staff relate to our students in unique ways,” offered Dr. Aljoe. “Whether it’s where we come from or our educational journey, we have similar stories. And more importantly, our students can see themselves in us. We should look like the students we serve.”

Dr. Aljoe’s statement is bolstered by facts. According to a study from John Hopkins University, African American students who had one Black teacher before 3rd grade are 13% more likely to pursue higher education. As for Black students who’ve had more than one African American teacher, the likelihood of college enrollment nearly triples to 32%.

These statistics illustrate how life-changing inclusion can be. Furthermore, they highlight how representation and visibility can change children’s perceptions of themselves and the world around them. When students from marginalized communities see themselves in their teachers, it increases their self-esteem while encouraging the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and growth. Moreover, the positive influence of diverse school faculty is apparent among the entire student body. Seeing adults from different backgrounds in positions of authority challenges their biases, fosters cultural awareness, and encourages further inclusion.


At University of Bridgeport, #UBelong. With 80+ career-focused majors, 50+ clubs and activities, and comprehensive student support services, you’ll never be alone at UB. Learn more about becoming a Purple Knight today!


Ultimately, Diversity is Better for Business

Imagine that a start-up company is settling into its new home base. The two young executives have decided to rent an inexpensive office space on the fourth floor of a building. Although there’s technically an elevator, it hasn’t functioned properly in years.

The two executives have decided to hire a graphic designer to assist with their branding. They spend weeks raking through portfolios and resumes before discovering the perfect candidate. After an impressive phone interview, the executives are further convinced that she’s the right woman for the job. That is, until an unexpected barrier reveals itself — the graphic designer, who is in a wheelchair, cannot access the story-high office space without the use of an elevator.

At first glance, this may seem like too specific a scenario. But for anyone using a wheelchair, this frustrating situation is all too familiar. The fact of the matter is that all of us, including leaders and decision-makers, gain our perspectives through lived experiences. When faced with opportunities and decisions, even the most well-meaning executives operate from a limited frame of reference — often failing to understand the needs and desires of diverse individuals.

By offering new perspectives and unique ideas, diverse professionals help companies learn and grow. Experts note that one of the greatest strengths of diverse leadership teams is their collective depth and breadth of experience. By collaborating with colleagues from different backgrounds, experiences, and worldviews, leadership teams can take an informed approach to decision-making. Aside from supporting a positive professional culture, this helps companies build appeal and provide services to a broader demographic.

A Future that Dares to be Different

At UB, students, staff, and faculty alike come together to form a richly diverse community of leaders, innovators, helpers, and thinkers. With expert faculty, hands-on learning experiences, and comprehensive student services, University of Bridgeport will help you become a voice for change and a role model for generations to come.

Ready to start inspiring change? Learn more about joining the UB family today!