Nathan Fonesca ’20, a Diversity Peer Educator, wanted to start a dialogue about the importance of education and the impact it has made on black men. So he organized a panel discussion that brought together members of the University and New Haven communities.
December 2, 2019
Nathan Fonesca ’20, a criminal justice major, is passionate about ensuring the voices of black men are heard. A Diversity Peer Educator through the University’s Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Fonesca recently organized a panel discussion that brought together members of the University and local communities to discuss the impact of education.
“As a black man and a student leader, it is my responsibility to help stimulate the conversation about the importance of education and its impact on the lives of young black men,” said Fonesca, who is minoring in legal studies and psychology.
The panel included University of New Haven students and faculty members, including Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., assistant provost for diversity and inclusion and director of the Center for Advanced Policing; Danielle Cooper, Ph.D., director of research at the Tow Youth Justice Institute and assistant professor of criminal justice; and Kendell Coker, Ph.D., J.D., assistant professor of psychology. It also brought prominent individuals from the New Haven community, including Brian C. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI’s New Haven field office.
"Events like this are important because they provide us with perspective. This was a great opportunity to better understand the impact of education, which is so important."Davonte Yearwood ’21
Panelists shared their own educational experiences and discussed how they have seen education impact the lives of young black men throughout their careers. Davonte Yearwood ’21, a criminal justice major who attended the discussion, says the topic is crucial.
“Events like this are important because they provide us with perspective,” he said. “This was a great opportunity to better understand the impact of education, which is so important.”
Fonesca led the discussion, asking panelists what improvements could be made to the education system that would make it more effective for all students. Zanaiya Léon’18, ’20 MBA, coordinator for leadership, diversity, and inclusion for the Myatt Center, co-moderated.
“We encourage students to focus on issues that matter,” she said. “This is a good way to engage members of the campus community, to help them learn. I’m inspired by students who organize such significant events.”
Fonesca hopes the discussion will lead to more conversations, and, ultimately, to new approaches across education.
“Posing these thought-provoking questions,” he said, “can lead to more dialogue, different perspectives, and greater understanding.”