As the largest center for education and research at Montana State University, the College of Letters and Science knows diversity is our strength. We are proud to enact our land-grant mandate to welcome all students, staff, and faculty, with a commitment to support people of color and others who have been historically underserved. Montana State University is located on the original homelands of Native peoples. We commit to acknowledging this rich history, learning from the past, and being good stewards for the future. We commit to caring for and nurturing the human, economic, physical, and environmental resources entrusted to us.We respect and celebrate the diverse dimensions of people’s identities in order to best achieve an inclusive environment of excellence in learning, teaching, and research.
If there was one thing we needed to know in order to know Lyla Brown, what would it be?
LB: I am very passionate about education! I never thought that I would end up going to college when I was in high school let alone attending graduate school. I am very passionate about empowering other students to create a future for themselves that they will be proud of as well as creating a campus climate that they are proud of. I love chatting with and meeting students from different backgrounds and seeing how everyone's individual paths have led them to MSU and seeing how DEI work fits into and impacts their lives. Additionally, I think it is important that to know me, people need to know that I love baking! Even the hard recipes that are not worth all the work, I find fun and interesting too!
Lyla, we will be coming to you for baked goods to keep us warm this winter!
Can you tell us a little bit about your research and how you see it changing the culture at MSU?
In my last year [as an undergraduate] at MSU, I worked on an internship and completed a research project exploring DEI efforts at other universities within the Big Sky Conference. I talked with administrators from other universities about what DEI means to them and how programs are implemented on different campuses. This project helped put into perspective what other campuses are doing in terms of DEI work, and how we can create and mold programming to meet the changing needs of students. Through the findings of this project, we were able to adjust our programming to fit the needs of a wider range of students on campus. Finally, this project is leading to further understandings of the changing landscape of DEI work and by remaining forward-thinking in our student support programs.
What initially led you to DEI work?
As a sophomore undergraduate student, I saw a need for community for Black students, which is where I started engaging with DEI on our campus. From this personal experience, I co-founded the Black Student Union in 2018, which is where I began working more closely with the DISC. Ultimately, I was led to DEI work because I saw the importance of the work in my own life, and those around me. I wanted to create change that would impact those currently at MSU and be a part of the efforts to sustain that change into the future.
Tell us what you do in the DISC office now.
I am currently the Graduate Assistant for Education and Mentorship. I manage our SafeZone program which is MSU's SafeZone education and awareness program. I also co-manage our AIM (All-Inclusive Mentorship) Program. This program matches mentees from diverse backgrounds with mentors who match their needs. Some of these backgrounds include race and ethnicity, gender identity, socioeconomic status, and many more! In addition to these two programs, I also help student organizations with event planning and execution. We are currently supporting the International Student Organization with Multicultural event and also helped plan American Indian Heritage Day.
Because October is LGBTQ History month, we would love to hear from you about the resources at MSU available to support those who identify as LGBTQ+ through DISC.
There are several LGBTQ+ student support programs available to students on campus. First is our QSA (Queer Straight Alliance), which is a great community-building club on campus for queer students and their allies. The second club to highlight would be oSTEM (Out in STEM), which is a professional development club for students in the STEM field. The final program for students that should be highlighted is our AIM program which is how we can get any interested LGBTQ+ students connected to a mentor. For staff, faculty, and other students looking to enhance their awareness and allyship for LGBTQ+ students on campus, I recommend our SafeZone education. Folks can sign up for public sessions on the SafeZone webpage at MSU or request private sessions for the Spring semester, too.
Thank you, Lyla! And for those in our CLS Community, we have a Safe Zone Module 1 session scheduled for November 8 from 3:00-5:00pm. Contact
us at [email protected] to reserve your seat.
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College of Letters and Science
Montana State University
P.O. Box 172360
Bozeman, MT 59717-2360
Tel: (406) 994-4288
Fax: (406) 994-7580
E-mail: [email protected]
Location: 2-205 Wilson Hall
Dean: Yves Idzerda
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