By RIZELLE ROSALES ’18
Anyone who has seen the Diversity Center here at PLU will know that it’s a colorful, creative space where students of all backgrounds are welcome.
Behind the scenes, you’ll find Angie Hambrick, the director of the Diversity Center since 2006. Since then, she has enacted social justice programs through the D-Center that have helped create a better social atmosphere within the PLU community.
Angie Hambrick grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., and throughout her youth, she was aware of the expectations that others had of her.
Her childhood household consisted of her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother, who all served as strong, feminine role models for Hambrick growing up. Each woman was either an only child or the oldest of the siblings.
“There was a lot of personality in that house,” Hambrick said.
Hambrick has vivid memories of eating watermelon sorbet and watching “Golden Girls” with her great aunt and listening to her grandmother play James Brown records.
Growing up, she was affected by the socio-economic stereotypes and connotations tied to being a woman of color. In high school, Hambrick developed a strong passion for social justice. She was motivated by her high school forensics teacher, Jennie Jensen, to explore her unique identity and take risks.
Hambrick attended University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire for undergraduate studies, majoring in public communications with a topical minor in politics of race. She became close with the members of the Black Student Union as well as the members of the Student Organization of Latinos.
The members of each group eventually found that their experiences and perspectives as minorities were common ground. Hambrick and her colleagues decided to bring the two clubs together and form one group called the Black/Latino Student Alliance. She served as the group’s first president.
Hambrick graduated in 2002, and like any graduate, she craved adventure and a change of pace. She took the job opportunity at PLU, which brought her to the West Coast.
Her goals were to broaden the horizons of the Diversity Center and extend it to social justice. Campaigns dedicated to eliminating harsh and harmful language, such as My Language My Choice, work towards bettering the environment in PLU as well as in the surrounding area.
The Diversity Center co-hosts another event called The Tunnel of Oppression. This is an interactive, multi-sensory experience that aims to raise awareness for social injustices.
Hambrick is also the co-founder of a scholarship distributed at her alma mater, University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire, titled the Alumni of Color Social Justice and Involvement Scholarship.
This scholarship is given to a sophomore, junior, or senior student that has demonstrated leadership and passion for social justice and inclusion. Every year in October, she visits her old home and reunites with her old colleagues to present the award.
“I believe Angie is a highly independent, intelligent, and compassionate individual,” Lauren Mendez, a student Diversity Advocate of two years, said. “She really knows how to look at the big picture.”
Since Hambrick works with a wide array of students, every day is an adventure. “You never know what you’re gonna get. It depends on the people who are here, and the mood they set,” she said. “This job best fits my personality. I think that’s why I’ve been happy here for the past nine years.”
Throughout her life, Hambrick has found her own sense of self, and has defined her identity in her own terms. Her ideals can be summed up by the Audre Lorde quote, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
Hambrick, throughout her life, found ways to break free of the expectations, limits, and definitions that our society sets. She found her passion and found a way to apply it in her every day life. Her job at the Diversity Center is now devoted to helping people through that same journey, to find their identity and to define themselves for themselves.