Karis Perusek AC'18 :: Diversity & Inclusion
I’m Karis Perusek, an AC ‘18, from Atlanta, GA.
ADPi has given me such an incredible space to spread my wings and try new things. As an “out-of-stater-gator,” I was nervous but determined to step outside of my comfort zone and make Gainesville my home away from home. I currently serve ADPi in the newly established position of Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, and I am crazy passionate about ADPi intramural volleyball. Beyond that, I am a leader on campus as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Ambassador, I am a member of Order of Omega and Criminology and Law Honor Societies, I serve Gainesville through MentorGNV which is a student tutoring service, and lastly, I’m also the Men’s Head Stylist for Strike Magazine.
In this post, I’m excited to talk about the Diversity & Inclusion position and why it is so important to me. Growing up in Atlanta, I met and became friends with a lot of different people from a lot of different places, and this was a privilege. People that didn’t look like me, had homes and a family life unlike mine, and people who loved differently than me. A handful of my friends in high school were homeless. Some had been in and out of jail for petty crimes. Some worked 5 jobs (I kid you not) on top of high school homework and regular activities to help their single mom put food on the table. Meeting these people gave me such an appreciation for the life I am lucky to live every single day. I turned my home into a tutoring center for some of those kids, and my car became a meal delivery service for those who couldn’t afford it. I became passionate and fixated on ways I could do more to help these friends and their families.
For many of my friends, the common denominator was drug use/abuse and jail time. I realized I wanted to pursue a degree in Criminology and eventually go to law school for criminal defense. Often, these types of lawyers represent people of very low socio-economic status. However, innocence, or at least rehabilitation, is important to me. No matter what the circumstances, I firmly believe that people deserve a chance.
Now, all of this does relate to the Diversity and Inclusion position, I promise! Oftentimes when we think about diversity, we think in terms of Black and white, literally. However, that’s not where diversity ends; in fact, it’s only just the beginning. Diversity can come in all shapes and sizes: gender, sexuality, skin tone, ethnicity, neighborhood, income level, and so many other things. As the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, it is my responsibility to educate Gamma Iota on what diversity looks like, beyond the realm of what most people think of. Especially in today’s world, it’s important, now more than ever, to amplify the voices of those who are compromised and to educate ourselves on different cultures and experiences, celebrate our differences, and embrace and love each other for exactly who we are, no matter how different we may be.
Bottom line, it’s important to show awareness for what’s happening around us, and do something to promote positive change. There is a lesson to learn from everyone (even if you don’t think there is), and that’s my main goal throughout these next few months in this position. I want to help us all step out of our comfort zones and expand our world outside of 831 W. Panhellenic Drive. I’m excited to see what we are going to accomplish together!