By Ed Brennen
One of the first things identical twin sisters Angelina and Alexandra Kam did during their summer co-op jobs with the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA
) was complete Diversity Peer Educators
Not because the rising sophomore business administration
majors from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, needed to improve their cultural competency and social justice awareness (though they say that was a welcome bonus), but because they needed to evaluate the training to see how it could be improved.
The result of their work is a broader, updated version of the diversity peer education curriculum, one that advocates for many different communities. The new training modules will be introduced to UMass Lowell students in the fall — in both online and in-person formats.
“The aim is to educate people and get them sharing concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion,” says Alexandra, who along with her sister helped “elevate” the program by adding videos and resources that “we felt were more relevant to students.”
“It’s pretty cool knowing our program is going to be used by students going forward and will help promote the office,” Angelina says. “OMA is here for everyone. There are so many ways the office can help students.”
“The diversity at UMass Lowell is really awesome. … You feel like there’s a place for you here.”
-Business major Angelina Kam
The Kam sisters landed the co-op jobs as Immersive Scholars
, a program that provides $4,000 merit awards to first-year students. The scholarships funded their 250 hours of work over the summer in the OMA office at University Crossing. In addition to updating the training modules, they assisted with marketing efforts and helped plan promotional campaigns for Social Justice Week, which is in early February. They even got to decorate the Social Justice Center (located at UC370) with old OMA posters that they found in storage.
“As business majors, we’ve been able to apply business skills while also developing new skills like time management and making group presentations,” says Angelina, who notes that both she and her sister are leaning toward concentrations in marketing and management.
Just as the Kam sisters knew they wanted to attend the same university, they were hoping to work together as Immersive Scholars — in part because they are commuter students who share a car.
“We’ve been together since day one. It’s important to have each other’s backs,” Angelina says. “When you go to college, it is so different. So having someone that you know who’s there for you helps a lot.”
“She’s one of my best friends,” Alexandra says.
The sisters, whose father is from Hong Kong and whose mother is from the Philippines, originally enrolled as science majors but switched to business two weeks before school started.
“As kids, we always dreamt of doing different things, but it always came back to business,” Alexandra says.
The Kams enjoyed getting to know OMA staff members such as Amy Liss, Stephanie Garcia, Maria Clark and Alison Park during their co-ops (“They have all been so welcoming since day one,” Angelina says).
“Angelina and Alexandra have been an incredible asset to OMA,” says Liss, director of multicultural affairs. “They brought fresh ideas, dedication and a willingness to learn about our office mission, initiatives and programs.”
The sisters plan to remain involved with the office, and they also hope to become peer mentors with the new Asian American Center for Excellence and Engagement (AACEE
) in the fall.
“The diversity at UMass Lowell is really awesome — not just with the student body, but with the faculty, too,” Angelina says. “You feel like there’s a place for you here.”