NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State volleyball utility Julia Pierson (Rowlett, Texas) was chosen to attend the 2019 NCAA Inclusion Forum as an initiative of the Regional Student-Athlete Engagement Program.
Pierson, TSU’s Female Athlete of the Year, along with 23 other student-athletes joined 55 higher education and intercollegiate athletics leaders as professionals presented on a broad range of topics related to policy, research and best practices that support international student-athletes, LGBTQ student-athletes and administrators, racial and ethnic minorities, student-athletes with disabilities and women.
“I’ve come back with a better understanding of how to encourage engagement within athletics as well as between the student-athletes and the entire Tennessee State community,” said Pierson. “I think it’s important we promote inclusion to ensure everyone is comfortable here at TSU because it’s a home to so many.”
Through the program, Pierson also had the chance to visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a museum dedicated to the achievements of the American civil rights movement and the broader human rights movement worldwide, with the purpose of inspiring guests to leave empowered to spread the conversation to their own communities.
Derek Greenfield, co-founder of the Higher Education Leadership Foundation, presented on the topic of diversity within HBCUs. After the session, Pierson expressed, “As an HBCU, we have an pretty diverse campus, but our inclusion of everyone could be better as a whole. We are not here to judge, we are here to love. As athletes, the only color we see is the color that’s on our jersey, so just because we are a historically black college and university doesn’t mean we don’t open our arms to every race and ethnicity."
"When students are comfortable and included they get more involved and take on leadership roles around campus," exclaimed Pierson. "Fraternities and sororities aren’t limited to black students, we are allies to the LGBTQ+ community and we want what’s best for everyone."