Division of Student Life starts dialogue with ‘One Small Step’

Apr 01, 2021

In continuously trying times, humanity is always in search of ways to connect, to band together, to bravely solve problems that are too much for any one individual.

Recently, the Newman University Division of Student Affairs discovered an organization that strives to bring others together in a collective effort of caring and understanding.

Through personal conversations and professional connections, Joseph Shepard, director of multicultural engagement and campus life, heard about a program that would be beneficial to students, staff and faculty alike.

Joseph Shepard

“I learned about One Small Step through my community involvement. Through W (formerly known as Young Professionals of Wichita). I was connected to a friend who told me about One Small Step and his experience. Given Newman University’s mission and commitment to embracing the humanity of all individuals, I thought this initiative would be a perfect fit for our campus.”

One Small Step, as Shepard explained, is “an initiative offered through StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization, that seeks to help preserve the stories of our time in America. One Small Step is an effort to remind the country of the humanity in all of us — even those we disagree with politically.”

Empowered by the Newman Code, Shepard and others from the Division of Student Affairs worked to make One Small Step accessible to everyone on campus, providing both the opportunity and platform for important dialogue.

He also went into more detail about who is currently involved and how others can become involved.

“Faculty, staff and students are involved as participants. From an organizational standpoint, the Division of Student Affairs is working alongside employees of the StoryCorps team to ensure that we create an opportunity for individuals from different backgrounds to come together for a fruitful conversation. Others can help by supporting the mission of One Small Step. Though the deadline to participate in the Newman One Small Step Initiative was March 26, we hope to get members of our community connecting to the organization and their work in other ways.”

Shepard hopes that the One Small Step initiative may be used to reinforce and uphold Newman’s philosophy.

“Our goal through this initiative is to live out the values and mission of our institution. We believe that it is vital to create space where members of our community can lean into discomfort and get to know those who may not look, talk or think like them. We also believe that often we have more in common with those we disagree with than we think. It is only by coming together to have respectful and meaningful conversation that we can recognize the beauty in our differences.”

Learn more about StoryCorps and One Small Step here.