Meet a Tiger: Kendra Stewart-Tillman
As a student, this Tiger was on track to become a CPA. That was until her involvement in Student Affairs led her in another direction. Today, she helps students understand themselves, their identities and cultures and use that information to learn about others.
Meet Kendra Stewart-Tillman.
Title: Director for diversity and inclusion, Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center
Years at Clemson: Ph.D. study (Educational Leadership) 2008 – 2011; faculty in Student Affairs – 2013-2014; Gantt Multicultural Center 2014 – present
What I do at Clemson: As part of the Gantt Multicultural Center team, I am able to promote the celebration, awareness and understanding of many diverse cultures on campus. Integral to the learning process, knowing how to work across cultures and difference is central to developing critical thinking skills and situating ourselves in a campus, state, region, nation, and world that is bigger than just us as individuals. With those aims in mind, I conduct campus climate research for the student experience on campus, seeking to understand how different groups of students are experiencing this campus differently from one another and what programs and initiatives we can implement to address those disparate experiences. I chair the MLK celebration planning committee that honors and commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and prompts us to engage in civil and human rights issues today and how we can serve as agents of positive change in those areas. Additionally, I oversee our areas in Gantt that development intercultural capacity in our students through dialogue-based conversations such as the community dialogues component of CU1000, as well as offer year-round cultural awareness programming that offers an opportunity for all students to see themselves in the fabric of the campus events, while also encouraging cross-cultural social and learning interactions.
What I love about Clemson: The people I work with: Colleagues, students, community members, etc. Although my work can be challenging and even heavy at times, I listen to people who share personal stories of trauma related to incidences of marginalization related to their identities. The people I work with challenge me to be a better person, to continue to grow and learn from everyone around me and to also always find ways to laugh and have fun to balance it all out.
Accomplishment I’m most proud of: Personally, the birth of my son who will turn 2 in April. Professionally (yet still personal), my upcoming presentation with my spouse, Joshua Tillman, at the Men of Color National Summit in April. He is a high school band director and we are presenting on integrating positive racial/ethnic identity development into music education curriculum. We are both educators who understand the purpose and service nature of our careers. It will be a great opportunity to blend our individual expertise together as colleagues in advancing our fields’ knowledge base.
Where I see myself in five years: I’ve learned that we have to plan ahead as much as possible while also remaining open to new, unexpected opportunities that may come our way. I can say for certain that in five years, I will be continuing my work to help develop intercultural capacity in individuals/groups/institutions, which will help us create more inclusive environments for all members of the community.
Last thing I watched on TV: Blackish. It is the only TV show I make time to watch on a weekly basis.
Guilty pleasure: Anything sweet: cake, cookies, ice cream, candy, etc.
One thing people don’t know about you: I entered college as an accounting major with all aspirations of becoming a CPA upon graduation. Fortunately, I became so involved as an undergraduate student in Student Affairs, that I discovered my passion for cultural awareness programming and finding opportunities to promote holistic student development.
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