PSD Spotlight: Carla Strickland

June 24, 2020

July 2020

PSD’s July spotlight is Carla Strickland, UChicago STEM Education Digital Curriculum Developer. She has been at the University almost 12 years.

Carla was nominated for the “EDI Champion award.” This award recognizes a staff member who acts as a true diversity and inclusion ally and proponent. This individual is a local Diversity and inclusion leader who takes action and shows initiative in promoting diversity and inclusion in their unit. 

A member of the PSD community had this to say: Under Carla’s leadership, we have taken on issues as small as advocating for a higher office temperature, which was requested by several members of our majority-woman staff, and as large as a review and revision of our center’s standard interview questions in order to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our hiring processes.

We interviewed Carla about her interests and experiences below.

Carla Strickland

Where are you from?

Trinidad and Tobago

What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?

Even though UChicago STEM Ed is a somewhat unique type of group, focused on K-12 instruction, I appreciate how PSD has reached out to include us in Division activities.

Tell us a bit about you. 

I am a loud, proud, Black STEMinist. I am passionate about my work in math and computer science education, and am especially concerned with working towards equity in these fields. I grew up in the Caribbean and proudly represent my Afro- and Indo-Trinidadian culture, bringing that perspective and flavor to every aspect of my life. I'm a #BlackGirlNerd (especially SciFi) who also loves to dance, sing, cook, bake, puzzle, read, DIY, garden, and travel in my free time. I love my family and it is my great joy to teach my seven-year-old BabyGirl all about her Trinidadian family and heritage, even as we live and learn her African-American heritage. My favorite place to be is on a warm beach.

Who inspires you?

My amazing parents, who are both lifelong educators in their own rights! My mother was a teacher — vibrant and determined, she (gender) integrated her architecture degree program in the early 1970s. My father is a pastor — the most compassionate, honorable, and fun-loving man I know. From them, I learned how to value and respect people from every walk of life.

What is the most interesting thing that you are working on right now?

I have now lived in the Midwest long enough (18 years) to understand how to properly grow plants in this climate. This year, I've been working on a personal container garden of tropical plants that are crucial to authentic Caribbean cuisine. I've procured various tropical varieties of herbs, peppers, and fruits, which will grow outside in the hot Chicago summer, then hopefully grow well under lights in my porch and basement over the winter.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

To me, diversity and inclusion efforts must seek to right historical wrongs that have been perpetuated by a patriarchal, white supremacist society. These effects are made manifest in all areas of life, particularly in education, my chosen field. We must all continue to work to elevate the voices and value of those that have been so poorly served by the sexist, racist, classist, and colonialist ideals and practices that resulted in and perpetuate the stark inequalities we see today.

What have you seen lately that made you smile?

My daughter brings me joy every single day. She has managed to flourish even during the COVID-19 quarantine, which necessitated an abrupt switch to distance learning. This was not exactly the end to first grade that we imagined, but we did it! The accomplishment on her face as she delivered her final project via Google Meet made her father and I beam with pride and joy.

What three words best describe you?

Authentic, Unfiltered, Audacious

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