Tiffany Pugh

Ph.D. Student in Higher Education Administration

Tiffany PughWhen I hear the word diversity, I think about it on different levels. I first think about diversity that you can see and then those things that you can't always see. I guess a better way of saying that is thinking about the tangibles and intangibles of diversity. In that sense, we all can be diverse and it may not be obvious until we get to know a person by looking beyond the surface. I most identify with diversity as a first generation college graduate from the foothills of West Virginia, demographics often associated with underserved populations in higher education. Also, as an administrator, when I helped develop a student leadership program, we expected to have a variety of students bring different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds to the group, but we did not get such diversity. Instead, we attracted more of a "cookie-cutter" group of students.  I realized that maybe the questions that we asked in the application process attracted a certain "type" of student and I began to understand that sometimes the language that we use can perpetuate a lack of diversity—often unintentionally.

Throughout my time at William & Mary, I was surprised to meet several other first generation college students. It has been nice to know that I am not the only one even at a prestigious school like William & Mary. Also, I like that there is awareness of the need for diversity and plans to support diversity. It has definitely broadened my perspective, made me aware of certain privileges, and reiterated the importance of language.  It's extremely crucial to recognize diversity and individuality within the School of Education because better ideas and products are generated when we allow cultures and different perspectives to flourish. Tiffan