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Spring 2003 - Diversifying

Destination Purdue > Spring 2003 - Diversifying

Diversifying agriculture

By Erin Smith

For Nicolé Gale, diversity is something to be explored and celebrated. As the newly appointed coordinator for multicultural programs in Purdue University's College of Agriculture, it is her job to make sure others feel the same.

Gale and student

Photo by Erin Smith

Nicolé Gale, the College of Agriculture's multicultural coordinator, counsels Sherea Dillon, a junior majoring in food science. Galé's responsibilities include advising students and organizing programs to raise diversity awareness.

"My goal is to recruit, retain and graduate minority students," Gale said. To do that, she acts like a liason between students and faculty and often provides personal counseling and advising. "I want to encourage more multicultural students to be active within the school and to get them involved in programs like MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences)," Gale said.

MANRRS is a national organization providing academic support and networking opportunities for minority students. Some of the students who have worked with her personally believe that Galé is doing her job well. "Nicole is a godsend," said Nissa Majors, a junior in agricultural economics from Fort Wayne, Ind. "She truly cares about the needs of her students. She has been here for a very short period of time, and yet she has met tons of people from all over the University."

Some of Gale's other duties include organizing diversity programs for high school and college students and faculty. She travels to high schools in the state to introduce students to Purdue programs like Science Bound and a summer research program.

Gale also recruits multicultural students for the school when she travels. Currently, fewer than 5 percent of the students in the school are minority students. "I want to increase the number of multicultural students in the College of Agriculture," Gale said. "That would increase the diversity in the industry and agricultural businesses."

Gale also wants to get the faculty and staff involved in diversity awareness programs. She assists with organizing three-day diversity forum workshops for faculty, staff and students and provides awareness workshops for the school.

Gale credits Purdue for its strong diversity program. She has found it easy to fit into her role with the skills she developed working with students as an undergraduate and graduate student. "Purdue knew about diversity programs," Gale said. "They just needed someone to facilitate the programs."