Schoolcraft College and the Office of Equity & Engagement is proud to highlight and showcase distinguished members of our AAPI community here on campus. Throughout the month of May, we will be lifting the voices of administrators, faculty, staff and students.
Meet Sharon Christian | Associate Dean of Student Success and Retention
Working on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce has brought Sharon Christian, Schoolcraft College’s Associate Dean of Student Success and Retention, closer to her Asian-American heritage.
With thousands of student contacts each semester, she works with a professional staff and student team to provide academic support and resources. Serving in that role has inspired her to be a voice and leader for fostering belonging and inclusion on campus.
“I get to do this meaningful work every day, as we meet countless students, staff, and faculty on a regular basis. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion must be embedded into everything we do, and I am very grateful to be a member of this taskforce, which allows me the opportunity to drive meaningful change at Schoolcraft College,” she said.
Celebrating AAPI month is a time of reflection and celebration, especially given the wide range of cultures, customs and faiths. With hundreds of languages and plenty of contributions across the globe, Christian said it’s important to note the challenges Asian Americans face, including being considered a “monolith”.
“While celebrating is important and enjoyable, during this month it is equally important to acknowledge the challenges that AAPI communities face and actively participate in the resolution process,” she said. “Asian Americans are often considered a monolith: grouped together as individuals who are “all the same”.
Christian knows firsthand how diverse Asian Americans can be: she was born in India, a country with a vast number of dialects.
Combating the Model Minority stereotype is another challenge Asian Americans can face, something that exists in addition to barriers such as the double-glass ceiling for women and experiences of emotional tax. Lastly, the Model Minority Myth also perpetuates a monolith view of Asian Americans, which conceals pockets of AAPI populations who experience poverty and hardship.
“This is especially concerning as this perception may contribute to their communities not receiving the support that they need,” Christian said. “To resolve these concerns, no one-size-fits-all solution exists, but there are small actions you can take that can have a lasting impact.”
This myth is especially pervasive and detrimental as it is often used to pit Asian Americans against other races by comparing the collective success of Asians against others who have not experienced the same level of success. It contributes to the myth that AAPI are successful for not challenging the status quo and minimizes pressing issues AAPI members face, rendering them feeling invisible.
In the business world, challenging the status quo is often seen as a positive trait when done appropriately, as this is considered a risk-taking characteristic associated with leadership; however, Asian Americans are often seen as too risk-averse to be viewed as leaders.
The best way to get past all these stereotypes? Recognizing every AAPI person has a unique path and a rich, diverse culture that makes up their day-to-day life, Christian said.
“Ask thoughtful, personalized questions about their experiences, listen, learn, and engage with their responses, and amplify AAPI voices,” she said. “Include AAPI input in larger conversations, commit to actionable outcomes, construct systems that foster belonging and inclusion, and share in their achievements, joy, and successes.
“Sharing joy brings people together, and we can do this while honoring our differences and collectively take a step forward to building a better world.”