Students and faculty attend PoCC and SDLC DEI conferences in San Antonio


Printed with permission of Janine Jones

Vikrant Bakaya ’26, Ella Jacobs ’24, Isiuwa Odiase ’24, Maddie Baffo ’24, Assistant Features Editor Dylan Graff ’24 and Jessica Thompson ’23 pose for a photo as they travel to the Student Diversity and Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Alexander Dinh

Six students from the school attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) in San Antonio, Texas from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. On the same trip, 35 faculty members attended the People of Color Conference (PoCC).

The conferences aim to help people of color in independent high schools support one another as well as build and sustain inclusive communities, according to an email from Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) and Associate Director of Admission Janine Jones.

Jones said SDLC offers students a unique opportunity to connect with students from around the country.

“Every year, our students come back [from SDLC] saying it’s a life-changing experience for them,” Jones said. “The idea of going to a conference where students of color, for the most part — you are the majority, and every conversation that you have you are talking about things that are central and core to your identity. It is really refreshing to be with like-minded people and to be engaged with a wide array of conversations. But at its core, they are talking about your cultural identifiers.”

During SDLC, students listened to speakers and engaged with smaller groups of students. Maddie Baffo ’24, who attended the Black and African affinity group at the conference, said it was an eye-opening experience to no longer be in the minority.

“I attended the Black and African affinity group, had so much fun and met so many people,” Baffo said. “Attending the affinity group was a very affirming experience. I rarely have the opportunity to be in spaces where I am surrounded by so many students who look like me and share similar experiences.”

Junior Prefect Isiuwa Odiase ’24, who attended SDLC, said she appreciated hearing a variety of viewpoints.

“I enjoyed that there were so many people from different backgrounds there,” Isiuwa said. “I feel like that really opened my eyes to a bunch of people that I would’ve never met before or taken into consideration what they’ve gone through. Being able to hear a bunch of people’s stories opened my eyes to new perspectives about different struggles that a lot of people face every day.”

Jones said going to PoCC allowed her to share strategies with other educators about navigating DEI work in independent schools.

“Attending this conference makes you feel like you’re not alone,” Jones said. “It makes it feel like the experiences that you are facing are very similar to experiences that other educators around the country are facing in their independent school.”

Upper School Dean Adam Howard said PoCC helped him better understand the needs of his students and colleagues.

“PoCC is not designed for me, a cis-gender, white, male educator,” Howard said. “One of the reasons I embrace the conference is that it’s an opportunity for me to learn more about how I can be an ally towards equity and use my voice to help build our community even more.”