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  • Meet the Diversity Leaders

  Ashleyann Perez-Rivera, Diversity Leadership Program Coordinator       

    My name is Ashleyann Perez-Rivera and I am this year's Diversity Leadership Program Coordinator. 2016-2017 will be my senior year at RWU. I am majoring in Historic Preservation with a minor in sustainability studies. During my time at RWU, I  participated in the DL program as a mentor, joined clubs like Africana Student Coalition,  and helped  bring social justice programs my junior year through the Multicultural  Student Union. For me mentoring through social justice is the key to creating lasting change through the continual empowerment of one another. Mentoring also creates lasting relationships that extend beyond RWU into professional and personal life. Aside from advocating for social change I love going to art shows/exhibits and sight-seeing. 


Kerlie Merizier, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name is Kerlie Merizier and I am a senior majoring in Psychology with minors in Creative Writing and Spanish. I am the founder and President of the Africana Student Coalition on campus, and am involved with MSU, Sustained Dialogue, and the Psychology Club. I am passionate about diversity because I believe that a healthy community is where there is a constant exchange of knowledge and perspectives from people of various backgrounds. I am honored to be able to be a social justice mentor to students who care or want to learn more about issues of diversity and/or human rights violation globally. I only wish to foster hope in everyone I encounter and pass along skills that inspires them to want to be Agents of Change.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - MLK.


 Bri Jackson, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name is Brielle Jackson (Bri for short), and I am a junior studying Psychology with  a double-minor in Spanish and Criminal Justice.  I have been involved with social justice  activities since before college by co-founding and actively participating in my high  school's GSA; these passions have translated into several of my college extracurricular  activities as well. As such, I have been both an active member and part of the eboard of    SAFE and MSU,  work in and with the Intercultural Center, and try to constantly educate  myself on issues related to social justice.  LGBTQ+ issues and inclusive feminism are  particularly important to me. Leadership not only means to pursue passions,  but to live  authentically and educate by doing so. Social justice activism means to dare to live by  example and encouraging yourself and others to be the best people possible.    However, activism isn't all I do! I also love to write, draw, read, go to the gym, hang out  with friends, and play video games in my free time.


Melissa Mota, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name is Melissa Mota and I am a sophomore. I am a double major in Legal Studies and Political Science. Additionally, I am the President of the Multicultural Student Union, an organization on campus that is dedicated to shedding light on issues of social justice, diversity and inclusion while exploring oppression, intersectionality, power and privilege. As a Mentor for students participating in the Diversity Leadership Program, I hope to foster growth, contribute to change, all the while building relationships and mentoring as a dependable resource and ally. In my eyes, social justice is a lifestyle. It is something that has helped develop my character, and continues to shape my morals and beliefs. I am driven by the passion and desire to spread educational awareness of important social justice issues that are afflicting our campuses and communities today. Ultimately, I live and breathe social justice.


 Mariela O'Neill, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name is Mariela O'Neill and I am a senior at Roger Williams.  I am majoring in  Criminal Justice and Philosophy and minoring in Sociology and Anthropology.  I am from  East Providence, Rhode Island and identify as Puerto Rican.  Over the past three years, I  have been involved with social justice work and advocacy for students on campus.  I  have participated in the Diversity Leadership Program since my freshman year.  This  Program has allowed me to meet other students and allies from diverse backgrounds,  and the relationships I have made are long-lasting and meaningful.  During my  sophomore year, I became a Diversity Leader Mentor and have been mentoring ever  since.  As a mentor, I learned more that I ever thought.  The experiences my mentees had  and shared with me shaped my understanding as an individual.  


Vanessa Malkia, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name is Vanessa Malkia and I am a sophomore. I am majoring in Biology with concentrations in Public Health and Spanish. Besides being a Diversity Leader, I am the secretary of ASC (the Africana Student Coalition) and will head the RWU chapter of Women SPEAK ( a national chapter for girls empowerment). I am very passionate about women's rights and wellbeing and I believe that girl to girl relationships should be about empowerment. Equally, maternal and women's health issues and global health issues are some other things I feel strongly about.

As Alice walker said: "Activism is my rent for living on the planet."  I too believe that actively standing up and speaking up for current social justice issues is my duty as a global citizen.


 Phoebe Thaler, Diversity Leadership Mentor      

       My name is Phoebe Thaler and I am a sophomore at RWU.  I am double majoring in  Political Science and American Studies, and double minoring in Gender & Sexuality  Studies and Anthropology + Sociology.  In addition to being a Diversity Leader, I am the  Programming Co-Chair for the Inter-Residence Hall Association (IRHA) and hold active  memberships on the President's Task Force on Equity & Justice, SAFE, College    Democrats, and the International Relations Organization. In the social justice advocacy  world, I am passionate about feminist issues, queer issues, human rights issues, and  fighting for social justice through the vehicle of our political system, including electing  Hillary Clinton our next President. My philosophy about leadership is that a  leader  needs to know how to listen, because if a leader does not listen to their followers, and  even follow some of the time, they will no longer be an effective leader. My philosophy  on social justice mentoring is to be a partner to my mentees, to help and empower them, while also teaching them and pushing them to fight for social justice.


Tanaesha King, Diversity Leadership Mentor       

       My name Is Tanaesha King. I am a Junior Majoring in Legal Studies and Psychology. I am involved with MSU, Spanish Club and Co- President of Africana Student Coalition on campus. Diversity is important to me because it reflects who I am and how I grew up. I come from a city where Diversity was everywhere and was never an issue.  I believe it is important to be a part of a community where everyone is accepted and can express who they are. I am really excited to be a Diversity Leader at Roger Williams so that I can empower incoming students in their journey their freshmen year. Diversity is a beauty and also the reflection of who we are and how we are represented as a student of Roger Williams University.

“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to  live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.” -William Sloane Coffin Jr.