Humanity Shines Brightest When We Care About One Another

often reflect on the wisdom of the well-known quote by poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I have intense appreciation for this observation. For me, it encapsulates the essence of inclusion – it is all about how we make each other feel. I marvel at how brilliant and complex this seemingly simple sentiment really is.

My work as an educator in the field of diversity and inclusion is predicated on Angelou’s words, this fundamental view of human relationships. In my experience, I have never met a person who did not want to matter in this world. We universally want to feel respected and valued. This “truth” seems to be present in the countless stories that have been thoughtfully shared with me during the years. These stories tend to be rich with emotion and suggest a striving to feel visible and understood.

There is another quote by philosopher, theologian and humanitarian Jean Vanier that also reflects an ideal of inclusion:

“Each human being, however small or weak, has something to bring to humanity. As we start to really get to know others, as we begin to listen to each other’s stories, things begin to change. We begin the movement from exclusion to inclusion, from fear to trust, from closedness to openness, from judgment and prejudice to forgiveness and understanding. It is a movement of the heart.”

To be inclusive involves listening to one another with humility and generosity of spirit, with full attention that is unconsciously given with no thought of sacrifice but with appreciation of the privilege, the opportunity to understand the heart of another human being.

Imagine a world where we did this for each other. There would be no limit to what we could accomplish. It would be a world filled with breathtaking possibilities. We can do this for one another. We just have to want to.

People often note that this takes time, and it does. So perhaps my idealism surfaces when I consider if there is a better use of time. Is it possible for each of us to listen to the story of at least one other person? I think so.

Inclusion is about reaching in and touching hearts. It involves caring, wanting to share our humanity and our connection to each other. But this involves creating an environment where people feel safe and want to share their stories. The privacy of another person’s life cannot be denied. We cannot force, nor should we, a revelation of the heart. So as we open the door to sharing, we also must be respectful of the life experiences and the needs of the other person.

It is important to suspend the expectation that all of us wish to share – and wish to share at the same depth. I am appreciative of whatever another person wishes to reveal to me as this is a gift. It involves trust at the most profound level.

Perhaps the starting point is to reflect on our own willingness to be vulnerable, our own willingness to share with others. This involves how we, in Angelou’s words, have been made to feel, what our experiences and outcomes with sharing have been.

In my personal life, my heart is out there for all to know. And, in my professional work, I also have been very fortunate to have colleagues and dear friends who have listened to my many stories, and who have known that I was genuinely interested in listening to and understanding whatever aspects of their lives they wanted me to know.

This level of connection is at the core of inclusion, at its very essence.

Creating an inclusive world is not simple. Human relationships are not simple, but humanity shines brightest when we care about one another, when we want people to thrive and excel, and when we want all voices to be heard, listened to and understood.

Barbara E. Thompson is the associate director of UCF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She can be reached at Barbara.Thompson@ucf.edu.

Read more Humanity Shines Brightest When We Care About One Another

Building a Village

Revitalizing a Downtown Neighborhood

A new OCPS school joins other Community Partnership Schools in their mission to not only provide education, but serve entire communities.  Pegasus Magazine Feature    By Nicole Dudenhoefer

For the first time in 46 years, Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood has its own school for children in preschool through eighth grade.


Since the early 1970s, when court-ordered integration efforts closed the two all-black schools in the area, children in the Parramore neighborhood have been split up and bused to eight different school.

Read more Building a Village

UCF International Week – Nov 13-17

UCF Global invites faculty, staff and students to celebrate International Education Week (IEW), Nov. 13 – 17, 2017.


International Education Week is a joint initiative between the U.S. Departments of State and Education, recognizing the benefits of international education and exchange across campuses worldwide. A series of events will take place across campus highlighting international affairs, cultural diversity and the positive impact the international community has made on Central Florida.


One of the events is the 10th Annual International Breakfast. In collaboration with Global Perspectives, the program will cover the importance of globalization in today’s world.


The breakfast will take place in the Student Union Pegasus Ballroom on Nov. 13, 8-10:30 a.m., with featured keynote speaker Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mark Hertling, former Commanding General of U.S. Army Europe, who is currently leading programs for Global Partnering, Leadership Development and Health Performance Strategies at Florida Hospital in Orlando. He will be accompanied by UCF’s very own Dr. Timothy Hawthorne and Dr. Maria Santana. This year’s presentation has been refreshed to resemble a TED-style talk and we hope you can join us for the event.


Tickets are $25 per person or $250 for a table of 10. To secure tickets through UCF Global, please contact Gerardo Santiago at gerardo.santiago@ucf.edu


If your department or division is planning to host an event during IEW, UCF Global will be promoting the week’s events online and through social media. We would be excited to share your events on our channels. Please email farrell.calabrese@ucf.edu with times, dates and locations. You can also tag us on Facebook or Instagram (@UCFInternational), and we encourage everyone to use the #UCFIEW17 and #GlobalKnights hashtags in your posts.


Read more UCF International Week – Nov 13-17

New UCF Employee Code of Conduct

University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk is very pleased to announce the UCF Employee Code of Conduct now available online compliance.ucf.edu.

There are many laws, regulations, UCF policies, and ethical standards that we, as employees, are already expected to follow. The purpose of the UCF Employee Code of Conduct is to provide one guiding document that highlights many of these requirements and that can serve as a resource for employees when faced with questions or ethical dilemmas.


All employees are required to follow the UCF Employee Code of Conduct. Online training is available to assist employees in becoming familiar with the provisions of the Code of Conduct.

Read more New UCF Employee Code of Conduct

UCF Honors Veterans in November

UCF will host several events in November to recognize and honor the service of our Veterans during national Veterans Month:


  • Nov 2nd Noon to 1:30pm Lunch provided. CSEL 121

Breaking Contact: Soldier to Civilian, a Success Story

By Dr. Bryce Carpenter, Educational Outreach Programs Officer



  • November 16 – 4:00PM – 5:30PM CNH 146

Military 101 An Introduction to the American Armed Forces

Army Veteran Dr. Barbara Gannon and Marine Corps Veteran John Grande will host this workshop which focuses on the history, structure, and current issues of the United States Military branches. Dr. Barbara Gannon is an Associate Professor in the History Department at UCF. An Army veteran herself, Gannon has published several critically acclaimed books focused on military history, veterans, and the American Civil War. John Grande is the Project Manager of the University of Central Florida Community Veterans History Project, a project focused on collecting veteran’s stories. He is also a four year veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Read more UCF Honors Veterans in November

SEED offers group professional development in explorative space

24 faculty and staff members gathered for one afternoon each month this past academic year for self-reflection, respectful group dialogues, and introspective approaches to difficult diversity and inclusion topics.

Read more SEED offers group professional development in explorative space

Hispanic Serving Institutions: An Introduction with Dr. Cyndia Muñiz

As of Fall 2016, 25% of the UCF student body identifies as Hispanic/Latino, placing UCF on the cusp of federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). This session will provide a general overview of the Developing HSI Program, as well as explore the ways in which UCF faculty and staff members can help cultivate an inclusive HSI culture.

Dr. Muñiz is the Assistant Director of MASS and President of LaFaSA here at UCF.

  • Tuesday, February 7 from 1-2pm in Global UCF room 101


For full flyer, click here.

Read more Hispanic Serving Institutions: An Introduction with Dr. Cyndia Muñiz

Spring 2017 Unity Star courses are here!

See the schedule here!

Please note we’ll be rolling out a new registration system sometime this semester, but for now, registration is the same: Faculty, USPS, A&P register on MyUCF, OPS and students register by emailing diverse@ucf.edu with their name, UCFID, course title and date.

We’re looking forward to a great semester!

Read more Spring 2017 Unity Star courses are here!