The Multicultural Center will host MIXED — a panel to amplify the lived experiences of the biracial community at Cal Poly. The event will take place via Zoom today from 12-1 p.m.
Data and budget analyst for Cal Poly Scholars Jacob Campbell partnered with the Multicultural Center to create the event. The panel will feature a combination of students, faculty, staff and administrators who all identify as multiracial and who either work at or attend Cal Poly.
Campbell identifies as Chinese, Filipino, Scottish and Irish. He said that the goal of the event is to bring more visibility to the mixed-race community at Cal Poly as the biracial community is the fourth largest student demographic on campus.
“There isn’t too much programming on campus to celebrate this identity or to lift up this community,” Campbell said. “My hope is that students, faculty, even community members who choose to attend the event see themselves in our panelists or get excited to share their own stories.”
Campbell is the moderator for the event and will ask the panelists a total of five questions, one of which involves how their multiracial identities inform their approaches to social justice work and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
“It’ll be an interesting conversation because of the racial and ethnic identities that our panelists hold,” Campbell said. “We’re curious to see what unique roles our panelists can play in conversations surrounding equity and inclusion, simply because of the way they’ve navigated society with their identities.”
Interim Dean of Students and one of the MIXED panelists Joy Pedersen said that she hopes the event creates pathways for Cal Poly as an institution to provide resources and more spaces for students who are exploring their mixed identities.
“I’ve been at Cal Poly for 17 years, and there has never been a designated club or space for students, faculty and staff that identify as mixed,” Pedersen said. “Often, I’ve felt like I had to choose whether I am white or Asian Pacific Islander, and that has been challenging for me both personally and professionally.”
Financial aid specialist at Cuesta College and graduate student at Cal Poly Christina Sholars identifies as half Black and half Mexican. She said that she is excited to talk about the ability to have the best of both worlds by identifying with two different races.
“Growing up, I really struggled being in this gray space because at the end of the day, I never really had an attachment to either race,” Sholars said. “I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily have to pick a side, that you can embrace both individual cultures.”
Sholars also said that what really helped her feel comfortable in her skin was when the members of the Latina Leadership Club at Cuesta College told her that she is just as Latina as them, even though she is biracial.
“I want students to have that community that I didn’t have growing up,” Sholars said. “I want them to know that they can take advantage of being able to have both cultures.”
Political science sophomore and another panelist Sara Steichen identifies as half Mexican from her mother’s side and half white from her father’s side. She said she was eager and inspired to get involved with MIXED, because she rarely hears people discuss the benefits and challenges of being multiracial.
“Growing up, I often felt insecure or had various questions regarding race, and I wish I would have known then what I am beginning to learn now,” Steichen said. “I often felt left out or like I couldn’t fully identify with any one member of my family.”
Steichen said that over time, she has become more comfortable expressing herself through a multiracial lens and said she hopes to foster this feeling for event attendees who struggle to understand their identities.
“Overall, I want to help other multi-racial people feel understood and accepted and to know that there are many others walking in their shoes,” Steichen said. “I hope the people who attend this event leave having a better understanding and a newfound confidence in their own racial identity.”
To RSVP for the event, fill out the event registration form here.