A woman with brown curly hair hangs pictures in her new office at Missouri State University. The bare office is being transformed to fit her personality.
Missouri State University alumna Dola Flake graduated in 2015 with her master’s in social work.
Flake worked as an independent diversity and inclusion consultant before accepting her position as the coordinator of diversity and transition support at MSU.
As a consultant, Flake focused on training people to create a more inclusive workspace across different job sectors. Some of her work was in her hometown of Joplin, Missouri.
She served as a member of JOMO-EQ and the Joplin Emancipation Celebration Committee.
JOMO-EQ is a support and education group for the Joplin LGBTQ community.
The Joplin Emancipation Celebration is an annual event held to advocate for the history and achievements of African American people.
“Advocacy for underrepresented groups has always been a part of who I am,” Flake said.
As a gay, bi-racial first-generation student, Flake said she experienced what it’s like to be treated differently because of who she is.
“I have endless childhood experiences related to racism and feeling left out because of who I am and because I was in poverty,” Flake said.
Flake describes herself as an advocate who’s passionate and determined to provide more access to education for people from all groups, especially those who are underrepresented.
“Doing work around diversity and inclusion can be difficult,” Flake said. “And you have to be determined to push those efforts forward.”
Not everyone wants to open their spaces to all people Flake said, mentioning there are times where she has faced adversity because people wanted to keep their culture as it is, rather than opening up to different groups.
Flake said her supervisor Ryan Reed, coordinator for access programs at MSU’s Multicultural Resource Center, has helped make her transition easier.
Reed said Flake is still getting used to her new role, but he thinks she is acclimating well to the campus.
“We’re happy that she’s here and she’s going to do a good job,” Reed said.
One day, Flake hopes to influence policy to create inclusive spaces.
Last year, Flake was a speaker during the Collaborative Diversity Conference at MSU about oppression and injustice.
Flake began working at MSU around three weeks ago. She said she is working to build connections with students and staff around the MRC. She’s also learning more about the Bears L.E.A.D. initiative.
“I’ll know what has worked well in the past and know what the vision is from the people who developed the program,” Flake said.
Bears L.E.A.D. is a freshman-focused program working to provide resources to first-generation or underrepresented groups, according to the Bears L.E.A.D. website.
As coordinator of Bears L.E.A.D., Flake said she will be regularly interacting with students — which is her favorite part of the job.