Since opening its doors, the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion has continued to foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on campus while expanding the services and programming it offers to Chargers.
November 12, 2021
Five years ago, Ronald E’an Pierce ’16 attended the ribbon cutting that marked the official opening of the University’s Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion. He says the creation of the space served as a reminder that “a moment of change had arrived.”
Although Pierce had recently graduated when he attended the event in the Fall of 2016, and he didn’t get to experience the Myatt Center as a student, he has been involved in the center’s programming as an alumnus. He recently returned to the University to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its opening, an opportunity he calls a celebration of “acceptance, learning, diversity, and inclusion.
“It was emotional to see the opening of the Myatt Center,” he said. “I’m grateful to have been able to attend the five-year celebration as an alum. It’s so important and very gratifying to be a part of this. I hope I’m here for the 10th anniversary celebration.”
Dedicated to fostering cultural diversity, awareness, and sensitivity at the University, the Myatt Center offers programs, activities, and services to promote understanding and inclusivity. It is a space for all Chargers to connect and feel a sense of belonging.
“The center became a safe space for me when I needed it the most because of the political climate,” said Samara Clark ’19, who served as a diversity peer educator and a Myatt Center student worker. “Spaces like the Myatt Center let students be who we are unapologetically. I hope to make an even greater impact in the future and return what the center gave to me.”
The event brought together students, faculty, staff, and alumni to celebrate the impact the Myatt Center has made at the University, as well as the impact it promises to continue to have on future generations of Chargers.
‘This is important to my parents’ legacy’
Kevin Myatt '16 Hon., a member of the University’s Board of Governors, and his wife Gail, joined the celebration virtually from their home in Arizona. The center bears their family’s name, and the Myatts have supported its mission since day one.
“The center allows all people to find a place of solace,” said Kevin. “It enables people to be themselves, and for that, we are eternally grateful.”
“I remember when we were at the ribbon cutting,” said Gail. “So much has happened since then, at the center, in our lives, and in the world, which shows how much we still need to celebrate diversity.”
Many members of the Myatt family attended the celebration in person – some coming from Florida and Washington, D.C. Lt. Col. Craig Myatt – Kevin’s younger brother – and his wife, Dr. Christine Myatt, visited the University earlier this semester, and they were excited to return for the celebration.
“This means a lot to our family,” said Christine. “They’ve done an amazing job at the Myatt Center, and the student education is absolutely incredible. We’re very impressed with the students and the faculty.”
As part of the ceremony, Craig shared the inspiring story of his parents, describing them as “trailblazers” who were committed to their family, to their meaningful careers, and to fostering inclusivity. He said the center keeps their legacy alive and “stands for all they believed in life.
“When we visited a month ago, we were very impressed with the student response to what the center offers,” he said. “That same student excitement greeted us today, and we’ve seen it throughout the evening. This is important to my parents’ legacy, for what they worked for in terms of achieving inclusivity in society.”
‘It’s a very positive space’
Since opening, the Myatt Center has continued to offer new resources, programming, and engagement opportunities, including the SUCCESS (Successfully Uniting, Connecting, Creating, Engaging, & Serving Students) mentoring program, the ongoing Courageous Conversation series, and a variety of cultural celebrations. It has grown from a staff of one to three, in addition to student workers and volunteers.
Zanaiya Léon ’18, ’20 MBA, serves as the center’s assistant director, says she is grateful for the opportunities the center has created for members of the University community.
“I am honored to have been a part of the celebration and to have been a part of coordinating it,” she said. “This was a very beautiful opportunity. I continue to learn so much from the Myatts and from the center. I’m honored to join the University’s legacy with the Myatt family.”
As part of the celebration, the University community shared a video with the Myatt family highlighting the center’s impact. Students, alumni, faculty, and staff discussed how the center has impacted their lives personally and why it is such a critical space for members of the University community.
Josh Carbajal '18, '20 M.A. shared his experience as part of the ceremony, describing the center as “one of my favorite places on campus.” A former diversity peer educator, he says he spent a lot of time in the center and made some great friends, and he’s grateful the University offers such an impactful gathering location for the University community.
“It’s a very positive space,” he said. “I’m glad to have been here to celebrate such a non-judgmental place on campus. I’m glad to see it has grown. Everyone there has a passion for diversity and inclusion, and they don’t settle for anything less.”