Cosumnes River College

Shannon Vellone Mills
Cosumnes River College 
2015 Regina Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award Winner

Shannon Mills

 

Amanda Wolcott Paskey
Cosumnes River College 
2015 Regina Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award Winner

Amanda Paskey

 

Anastasia Panagakos
Cosumnes River College 
2015 Regina Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award Winner

Anastasia Panagakos

Professors Shannon Vellone Mills, Amanda Wolcott Paskey and Anastasia Panagakos, members of the Cosumnes River College (CRC) Anthropology Program, have accomplished many things in support of diverse student populations and have worked to create an environment of inclusion at Cosumnes both in and out of the classroom. In the classroom, The Anthropology Program shows students how to use Genome mapping to encourage broader conversations about “genetics, our origins, and how the concepts of social and biological race may not be what people anticipate.” All members participate and their results are displayed as part of a department coordinated campus exhibit. Outside of the classroom, the team works to create the “Safe Spaces” initiative, a program that supports the educational and emotional journeys of CRC students by fostering their success and creating an environment of acceptance, awareness, and appreciation for the diverse array of experiences, beliefs, and voices on campus.

Senate Support
The Senate is working with the administration to find more ways to support committee work and institutionalize cultural events, which should help some of the projects by removing administrative burdens and streamlining the program's organization needs. The program hopes to continue working with the Senate to encourage administration to hire additional fulltime faculty, increase the limited adjunct pool, and provide needed support for adjunct faculty to be able to do this type of work both in the program and across the campus.

Working with the Community
Professors Mills, Paskey and Panagakos have worked with community partner WEAVE to promote awareness in the Safe Spaces program, as well as with other areas high school districts in various capacities in the First-Year Experience program. This program is funded by state equity/SSSP funding and resources across the campus and is designed to work toward access and retention of the disproportionately impacted populations. This program has continued to expand at CRC.

Where Are They Now?
While the mission of the program itself has not changed, Professors Mills, Paskey and Panagakos continue to look for ways to work in various areas of the college that seek to promote awareness.

Since winning the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award, Professor Panagakos is a leading member of the Social Responsibility Committee, leads the Safe Spaces Program on the campus (which includes holding the “Day of Unsilence”), and coordinates Women’s History Month at CRC. She has worked to change restroom signs on campus to gender neutral ones, and spearheaded the “Count Me in: Diversity and the US Census Photo Project”, which examines how constructs of race have changed over the years and attempts to open a dialogue about those assumptions.

In addition to being a Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award winner, Professor Paskey recently received the ASCCC Hayward Award for outstanding teaching, and is also the statewide CID Curriculum Director for Transfer.

Professor Mills is the creator, and now Faculty Coordinator, of CRC’s First Year Experience for incoming freshman, is the Muslim Student Association (MSA) club advisor, has helped support the students to bring cultural awareness events to the campus such as Islam Awareness Week, Black History in Islam, and Hijab Awareness Day, and has recently been elected as the Academic Senate President. She recently coordinated an event called “the Immigration Crisis”, an interdisciplinary panel presentation that brought together professors from our own program, as well as sociologists, political scientists and historians, to discuss the current state of immigration both abroad and here in the United States and how it is affecting our students.

While the three members of the department are all busy working on individual projects and teaching classes, they continue to mentor adjunct faculty and have also created a new Anthropology course on Sex and Gender to educate students on the biological, cultural, archaeological and linguistic approaches to this very timely topic to ensure that students are also receiving curriculum that reflects the needs of our changing world. It is the mission of the department to continue to promote awareness and inclusion across the campus in as many ways as possible through various means.

You Can Do It Too!
Professors Mills, Paskey and Panagakos offer the following advice for faculty who want to create their own projects to support diversity:

“Partner with as many people across the campus as you can! The “Who Counts” census project was done in conjunction with likeminded individuals within the Social Responsibility from the Photography department, which meant it was well not only done by social scientists, but creative. Bringing people from different backgrounds together often creates results that people are more likely to pay attention to. The FYE project has been a considerable undertaking; one that was initially modeled after colleges such as Pasadena, until we realized that we had different structural barriers and even student demographics than would allow us to move forward in the same ways. Even looking at our neighboring colleges (such as Sierra) yield such different results due to income variances in our students, so knowing how much support you are going to require from the different parts of the college itself are a key component to creating any type of new program. FYE has been quite a challenge and also fantastic in learning about just how much faculty need to work more collegially with each other and across constituency groups! Also, find your allies. Working with our Muslim students has truly opened my eyes about many things on my campus, including the need to know more about legal statutes due to harassment and discrimination by people on campus, including other faculty. Don’t expect your administration to take care of these things for you.”