MERCY DOES DIVERSITY!
Respect for other human beings is given – it need not be earned. The idea that we should respect others regardless of their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or other form of difference is one we all embrace. But, just as a person in a profession takes continuing education classes and someone in a trade maintains their tools or equipment, diversity and inclusion, too, is something that we must continue to learn about in order to develop, maintain, and improve our skills. This spring over 500 Mercy Girls had the opportunity to do just that.
Mercy Girls participated in diversity sessions where they engaged in activities that helped them recognize and manage individual biases. Activities and small groups allowed our girls to learn more about one another, the world around them, and bond as Sisters. The workshops were a huge success: 82% of attendees said what they learned and did caused them to look deeper into their biases.
This experience enriched the lives of Mercy Girls today and it will do so in the years to come. We know this because of input we received from the three stages of a Mercy Girls’ life – high school student, college student, and professional alumnae.
On Diversity: Mercy Girls
Students had great things to say about their experience. Here are a few things they said:
The best thing about this course is that it encourages students to have an open mind. ...this is the first diversity retreat I have ever been on. - Bianca Seely, 12
This course allowed me to open up, but also let me listen to how my peers see the world, which I found valuable. - Sophie Sawicki, 11
I appreciated that my opinions were valued and (in a) respectful environment. - Jenna Bratke, 11
It was very informative and opened by eyes to things I have never looked at. - Morgan Abb, 11
I love that I felt comfortable and I just felt great at the end. But in the beginning I was skeptical. It made me really think about what I need to work on. - Morgan Brietzke, 12
I am very proud that MHS has opened this workshop. I believe [it] has presented ideas that need to be talked about. - Kaylyn Smith, 12
On Diversity: College Recruiters
As a college preparatory school, we strive to prepare our Girls academically and socially for college. We want to remain a place where colleges and universities know they can recruit women who are outstanding in all respects. Diversity and inclusion is important to colleges and universities and they appreciate our efforts. When we asked college recruiters about diversity here is what they had to say:
Question: How can we, as high school educators, better prepare our students for the diversity they will experience in college?
Response 1: This is a HUGE question – but I think asking it is exactly what high schools need to be doing in order to prepare their students. …students need to be uncomfortable, because messy conversations are not comfortable! Diversity is inherently messy. If high schools can help students understand how to engage with civil discourse – with an emphasis on listening – students will be well prepared for their education.
Response 2: It is important to expose students to people who may be different than them, talking about social justice issues and inequities that people face, having conversations about current events, and participating in meaningful service learning work. These activities may open student’s minds to conversations or events that may be present on a college campus.
Question: Do you look for cultural competency and an appreciation for diversity among prospective students in the admissions process? Have recent stories of intolerance on college campuses impacted how you evaluate prospective students?
Response 1: It is wonderful for students to express their experiences with diversity in their application essay. If students…are found to be intolerant of other beliefs, especially in a way that is violent or hateful, they will face serious consequences, possibly including expulsion.
Response 2: We look for this [cultural competency] in the admission process through our essay and through the resumes and activities students are involved in. …we do have a zero tolerance policy for students who do not respect others from various backgrounds and orientations.
On Diversity: Mercy Alumnae
Long after their Mercy High School days are over and college has ended, our alumnae find that their lives continue to be enriched by their appreciation for diversity, much of which they gained while students at Mercy. Several alumnae had these things to say about diversity and how Mercy helped them have a greater appreciation for it:
Diversity is very important to me professionally as well as personally. It has shaped how I interact with my friends, colleagues, and complete strangers. Since I have an appreciation of diversity, it has helped me climb the corporate ladder and travel the world for business meetings and training. It’s important that we encourage an appreciation for diversity among Mercy girls so they can live a balanced lifestyle. Being exposed to a diverse environment will help these young women with their life goals: professional, spiritual, physical, community, relationships, mental and financial. - Marjon Parham, Class of 1993, Senior Supplier Quality Engineer – General Motors & Radio Personality
I hope to pursue a Masters of Occupational Therapy and work with Autistic kids. In working with kids with disabilities and having been in so many different places with such a variety of people, the ability to listen and learn about differences in people is one, if not the, greatest skill Mercy gave me. It [diversity] is truly one of the major pieces of the foundation of this school. - Taylor Babcock, Class of 2016, Student – The University of Michigan
As a public school teacher, appreciation of diversity is integral to my job. I believe that as a result of my experience at Mercy High School I am better able to celebrate people of all faiths, cultures and traditions. I have carried these values into my life both as a teacher and as a parent. I believe that the appreciation Mercy girls learn for diversity through interacting with their fellow students is among the most important benefits to a Mercy education. I can’t think of another school, public or private, where the student body is made up of such a mélange of cultures and traditions. This allows Mercy girls to not only be more accepting as individuals, but also to make a greater impact in their careers, homes and the world at large.- Kelly Hemmerling Beasley, Class of 1988, High School Teacher of Mathematics, Parent of Mercy High School Student
We live in a global village where there are a lot of people who neither look, think, nor live like us. The only way we can ever hope to have peace in our global village is to get to know one another. I am a Registered Nurse. I have taken an oath to care for anyone who needs my skills regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion. My personal and professional life has been enriched by what I have learned to appreciate from my very diverse group of patients and their families. We are, hopefully, preparing our Mercy girls to make a difference. They are the difference.- Arleen Bonello, R.N., M.S., Class of 1956
Thank you to all who participated in these workshops and offered their insights about diversity and its importance! This will help us continue to educate and inspire young women of diverse backgrounds to lead and serve with compassion.