Anne Denerville – Leadership in Diversity – 2017-2018 Co-President

Img of Anne Denerville

This week we sat down with Anne Denerville, LID’s secretary and co-president elect.  Anne, a Junior in Neag’s IBM program, is majoring in Elementary Education. She hopes to work with 3rd or 4th graders when she starts her career. We explored how LID has shaped her experience at UConn, the importance of diversity on campus, and what practices perpetuate the lack of representation in the front of the classroom.

“I transferred to the Storrs campus as a sophomore from the Stamford branch and was looking for an organization that I could call home. Coming from the branch, naively, I thought it would be diverse up here too. I was shocked by the lack of diversity of the students in my program and the lack of representation of teachers of color in the education field. I realized I didn't see myself as a teacher in large part because I never saw anyone who looks like me teaching. After getting over the initial shock, I felt like we needed to do something about it. LID gave me a community to get involved and be proactive. The space that we have with LID gave me confidence coming into the program. It can be intimidating being the only black girl in the cohort, you definitely look around and think ‘where is everyone else at?’ I have the confidence to speak to my professors and speak out in class because of LID. They let me know what to expect and helped me navigate the program as a student of color.”

“I think we need more professors of color at UConn. I think there is definitely a disconnect between students of color and white teachers, they just don’t get it. It’s not their fault, it’s not to say there is anything wrong with them. There are shared lived experiences within communities of color, having professors who look like us could help alleviate some of stress that comes along with being a student of color at an institution like UConn. I don’t know where it starts, but I know that it begins with us. I wish UConn was more diverse. I think we can start that trend in the program. If we have more teachers of color practicing multicultural education we will see a little bit of change and growth.”

“I would definitely feel more comfortable in the program if there was more diversity. I have built that confidence to not feel like I am out of place, but I know everyone isn’t there yet. You don’t see students of color in a lot of classes, I have to prepare myself to be the only black girl. In one of my English courses I was silent for the first couple weeks. I didn't raise my hand or anything because it wasn't a space that I felt comfortable talking in. It didn’t feel like it was a space meant for me. It wasn't until I learned about my professor, specifically about her decision to adopt children from my family's homeland, that I was able to connect with her and feel comfortable in class. You need to be able to believe that the professor has your back. It really helps when you have that comfortability to speak up in academic spaces. I ended up doing better in the class because I did speak.”

“Taking the multicultural class last semester, we learned how desegregation basically wiped out all the teachers of color because they weren't deemed qualified to teach in an integrated school. That history plays a big role in the lack of teachers of color in this country. From there, you have to look at the educational experience of students of color. Black and Latinx students are suspended and punished at a much higher rate. We don’t see ourselves in the books, teachers are constantly reading the same non-multicultural books where their history and experience is ignored. Can you blame those students for not being interested? I can tell you from my experience, when I see myself in the books I enjoy, even love, doing school work. I think that students push away from education and the there isn't any desire to become educators themselves because it doesn't seem like it’s meant for them. I hope that with LID and with the efforts to mobilize more teachers of color we will be able to change this reality. Maybe these efforts will mean more students have a better experience with school, seeing themselves in the books and in the front of the classroom. My hope is that I can inspire at least one student to want to be an educator too.”