On March 24 and 25 the University of Rhode Island Multicultural Unity and Student Involvement Council (MUSIC) will host their third annual Diversifying Individuals Via Education Conference (DIVE Rhode Island).

DIVE RI serves to educate and inform college students on the pertinent issues surrounding race, ethnicity and intercultural competence and inclusion amongst higher education through workshops, presentations, and discussions.

Temidayo Akinjisola, the current logistics chairman and co-founder of DIVE RI, is a senior double major in political science and supply chain management here at the University of Rhode Island. After attending the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) with a few other URI students in Indianapolis his freshmen year,  Akinjisola was inspired by the positive experience to create a similar conference for the purposes of URI students.

“We started by creating a student led initiative, we really pride ourselves that this whole conference is done by students for students,” Akinjisola said. “So we got organized and really went to work creating this experience.”

“Our first year I worked primarily on financials; mostly fundraising, budgeting, and requesting sponsorships,” Akinjisola said. “This required a lot of research, I even learned how to grant write and worked closely with the URI Foundation.”

“We had our first conference in 2015, about 250 people attended and it was a success. We had such an impact on a young woman from Boston University that she created BUNITED, a student diversity conference for Boston University,” said Akinjisola.

As Logistics Chairman, Akinjisola handles and facilitates more of a project management type role where he organizes meetings and plans schedules, but says he would not be able to do it without his team, “I have a great group of individuals around me,” he said.

The theme for this year’s conference focuses on restoring hope.  “We have a call of action that requires all of our presenters and workshop leaders to focus on solutions and real impacts that are being done to spark hope for our immediate community,” he said.

Registration is $20 for URI students, or $25 for non-students, and includes full access to conference materials and programs including the keynote presentation, breakout sessions, gallery space, evening events, and special performances.

Speakers for this year’s conference have come from across the United States to share their perspectives on how to aid student leaders in their quest for cultural competency with regard to ethnic and racial equality.

Individuals were invited to create presentations and workshops and submit proposals that expound on the “restoring hope” theme, elicit comprehensive and engaging dialog, challenge the attendee’s knowledge and encourage active problem solving, and highlight practical models for solution strategies.

The 2017 Keynote Speaker is Jemele Hill, co-host of the 6 p.m. slot on SportsCenter and columnist for ESPN. “Jemele Hill has utilized her position in the media to speak out on racial injustices across the United States, making her the opportune speaker for such a conference,” said Akinjisola. “She epitomizes the American dream, building herself from the ground up, and uses celebrity spotlight as a platform to address resolutions to real social issues.”

Attendees can expect to leave the conference with is a newfound incentive for inciting change in our community along with the tools and skills necessary for sparking change.

“For me, DIVE. RI is important because it reminds students that they have the ability to make an impact—which is crazy—and we hope through the conference to encourage others and restore hope,” Akinjisola said. “Everyone has the ability to make an impact, I think the question is what kind of change do you want to make?”

Tickets and an itinerary for D.I.V.E. RI can be found at www.diveri.org/.