Doing the Work
Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Alexandra Burrel gives readers a perspective into her life’s mission through the lens of “doing the work.” She wants to meet people where they are and assist in their growth and development.
July 12, 2021
I feel aligned with my purpose in life, but I didn’t get there until I did the work. It starts in the heart.
It took me a while to figure out what my role would be in the work. I knew I wanted to be a light in whatever space I occupied, but was unsure what the work was supposed to look like until I found my calling in diversity and inclusivity.
I wanted to meet people where they were and assist in their growth and development. The desire to understand the richness in differences, to serve as a resource, and to help create synergy pushed me to be more intentional in the work.
The more I dove into the work, the more reflection I did about myself. I wanted to pinpoint how I had developed this drive and how I would be able to sustain myself in it. I realized that I had been privileged to grow up in a household where God and love were the foundation. My parents, Willie and Zandra Burrel, created a space that was authentic, supportive, and conducive to continuous growth and development.
My mom likes to say that I take after my father, who, through ministry and community, dedicated his energy and effort to helping others. But I believe that I took after both of them and many others in my family and immediate support tribe. Their love for people, personable communication, community engagement, and humble partnership provided great examples for my approach to this lifelong work.
After 13 years in higher education, I was fortunate to join the University of La Verne community in October 2019. After serving at multiple diverse institutions of higher education, I was ultimately drawn to the core values of the University of La Verne and its identity as a Hispanic Serving Institution. There is a positive shift happening within our university’s culture, and I am grateful to help lead and to be a part of this journey.
Diversity work is challenging, as many people avoid difficult conversations and shy away from acknowledging the need for personal work. However, the presence of a global pandemic, racial unrest, and blatant racism and discrimination against Black and Brown persons give us no choice but to address the issues in front of us.
I look to approach the work from both a personal and an institutional perspective, where I initiate conversations around race and racism, bridge gaps in communication, educate myself and others around power, privilege, inequities, and oppression, and eliminate barriers to success. Knowing that I am aligned with my purpose and am bringing about change through this work is fulfilling. I invite everyone to join me as we grow our minds, bodies, and spirits together as one community.