Celebrating Alumni Changemakers

Doing work at the intersection of creativity, vision, and joy
Celebrating Alumni Changemakers. Photos of Gabrielle Greer, Richard Pittman, and Lulete Mola.

As stated in the University's feature “Where It Starts,” lives and identities are shaped by decades and centuries. They can be forever altered in minutes or seconds. For the individuals and communities who continue to make Black history at the University of Minnesota and beyond, change starts wherever the powers of creativity, vision, and joy meet. 

That intersection is central to a liberal arts education. As Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Malinda Linquist says, it’s important to take this moment “to celebrate, honor, and highlight the contributions of CLA’s Black alumni and the impact the College has made in their lives and work. Black joy, vibrancy, and creativity enrich the communities of which we are a part. 

“For Black History Month, we understand how critical it is to hold space and uplift Black voices today and every day. We are delighted to share just a few stories of how interactions with diverse faculty, staff, and student organizations built lasting relationships and shaped their worlds, which now shape ours. From notable advisors and creative influences to the interventions of Black literary feminist voices—CLA’s diversity has been essential for our excellence. 

“While we celebrate these stories, others declined to share, as their experiences were not as positive. The Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recognizes the impact that CLA has on Black students and the impact Black students have on CLA, and the work that is required of us to ensure our students and eventual alumni feel a sense of belonging and connection before and beyond graduation. Fostering critical and inclusive learning environments and collegial communities that welcome, nurture, and sustain the authenticity of our diverse community members is our work. We wish you all a joyful and reflective Black History Month and stand in solidarity with our community and College in this ongoing and essential work.” 

Our alumni, grounded in the liberal arts, inspire us by the breadth and depth of their work as changemakers, working to create spaces that keep everyone in mind. We asked Black alumni Gabrielle Grier (BA '17, art), Richard Pittman, Jr. (BA '18, religious studies), and Lulete Mola (BA '14 political science) to reflect on what compels them toward positive change and answer this question:

What is one significant event or relationship that you had in CLA that contributed to or continues to influence your life as a changemaker?

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