Aug. 17, 2017
BOCA RATON, Fla. -Meneftha Pierre recently represented Florida Atlantic University at the Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (FLAME) program, hosted by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. FLAME was created to encourage both undergraduates and graduate students of color to pursue meaningful careers with the Olympic and Paralympic movements. This year's program took place from July 25-Aug. 1.
While in Colorado Springs, Pierre was able to connect with U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes, explored ways to become involved in the Olympic movements, and networked with 26 other students from across the United States. They heard from several famous athletes, including 1968 Olympic medalists Dr. John Carlos and Dr. Tommie Smith and retired NBA player Jason Collins. The week also included Paralympic sport demonstrations and a golf demonstration with PGA of America.
"The overall goal of this program was to get us to think more about diversity and inclusion and how we can be a part of that change," said Pierre.
Pierre said the week-long experience gave her plenty of ideas that she hopes to implement at FAU.
"Honestly, it was a week of learning," said Pierre. "Everything was `oh wow, why aren't we doing this?' There are so many opportunities to educate people. I think the education component alone gives you new perspective, new insight, makes you think differently and even makes you think about what you can do to make a change or be more understanding."
Pierre, who is enrolled in FAU's MBA in Sport Management program, in addition to being the assistant to FAU Vice President and Director of Athletics Pat Chun, was appreciative of the support she received.
"Everyone was very supportive. Dr. (Jim) Riordan (director of FAU's MBA Sport Management Program) shared the opportunity with me," said Pierre. "For him to think of me was awesome. When I was accepted for the program, I immediately let my professors know and they supported me even though I would have to miss class. The professors allowed me to make up any work that I missed. I let Pat and (Associate AD) Brian Battle know as well and they were very supportive and encouraging. I also was able to get some funding through the Graduate and Professional Student Association. FAU really stepped up, which was awesome to know that my university, my program and my job supports me."
When asked what her biggest takeaway from the week was, Pierre mentioned that it was while inclusion and diversity are laudable goals, there is a certain amount of risk involved.
"I think the biggest thing was learning to be an ally," she said.
"Jason Collins said something that really stuck with me. He said, `When you're ready to go out on a ledge, you have to be prepared to live there.' That was big, and I understand that everyone isn't ready for that big step. Being an ally and knowing how to help others is really important."