Humans of U: Sheena McFarland

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“I am always looking for ways to create a campus ready for students rather than waiting for students to arrive on campus ready. This often means finding areas where we can make systemic change and make our campus a more welcoming place for students from all walks of life.

As a woman of color who grew up in Utah, I have faced discrimination in many situations, so working on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) has always been important to me. After graduating from U, I worked for The Salt Lake Tribune for a decade as a reporter and editor. I have covered topics such as immigration and LGBTQ rights, among others.

I have been at U since January 2015, and was able to sit on the MLK Week Planning Committee and was able to help Eccles School with their EDI work. I was really proud of what we were able to accomplish because it was so much more than just performative. It’s really at the center of our conversations as we work on how to create a more welcoming environment for our students and ensure that people feel a sense of belonging and that they are honored for their differences.

About a year ago, I discovered that some international applicants for our master’s programs were invited to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) even though they had never spoken only English in their life. I started talking to colleagues who were also frustrated with this and who had gone down different paths to try to change the policy but were unsuccessful, and as a group we started to be successful. I spoke with Dean Taylor Randall and in October of this year we had changed the policy be much more inclusive and reduce that barrier for many of our candidates.

In a moment like this, it’s really fun to watch the transformation take place. In my team, we have this idea that we all have the same heart but not necessarily the same ideas. We love higher education because of the transformative power of education, but sometimes that change happens very slowly. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s great to see people from across campus coming together to open doors for students and collectively create a more inclusive and welcoming space for our community.

—Sheena McFarland, Director of Marketing and Communications and Assistant Instructor, David Eccles School of Business


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