The Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program celebrates 10 years
By:Ashley Wilson and Katie Wiseman
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
The Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program (DEAP) is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. To celebrate the success of the organization over the last decade, let’s take a look back at where it started.
The Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) chapter was formed at IUPUI in 2004. The Student African American Sisterhood (SAAS) was formed as a national organization on IUPUI’s campus in 2005 by Khalilah Shabazz, the assistant director for student retention at the time. These groups paved the way for the formation of DEAP. The Office of Student Success was formed in 2007, which would later be rebranded as DEAP in 2013.
This rebrand was driven by Shabazz with a mission of providing students with increased opportunities, which has continued over the last decade. DEAP's mission is “To enhance the transition and success of IUPUI students from populations that have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education by addressing academic, social, and personal matters that have an impact on student persistence. DEAP offers intensive retention programming that connects, affirms, guides, and engages students to ensure their success at IUPUI.”
Eric Williams, the senior executive director of Educational Equity Programs (EEP) and the previous director of DEAP from 2014–2019, shared the significance of looking back on DEAP’s success as a program over the last 10 years.
"It's always important, especially with new leadership and new faces, faculty, staff, and students, to understand the importance of the program," Williams said. "Sometimes, when time goes by, there is a tendency for us to forget why things are important. It's also important to celebrate the program's successes. It started off as a very small program, but looking at the data, in terms of how DEAP students have consistently outperformed students from similar backgrounds who did not participate, is a testament to the program's success."
Two short years later, DEAP hit a milestone: outgrowing its space. In the summer of 2015, the DEAP lounge was remodeled to provide more space for students. In the same year, two additional coordinators and a graduate student were added to the staff. DEAP house, a residential-based learning community, was added as well.
Amadin Agho was a student at IUPUI and a member of DEAP from 2013 to 2017. He was involved in a variety of programs related to DEAP, including SAAB, Chi Alpha Epsilon honors society, and the African Student Association. Agho was able to see the program transform and grow.
"Amongst the rat race that is college and undergrad, there can be times you just need a time to sit back and relax, and the DEAP office was that for a lot of people, especially for off-campus students who just needed a place," IUPUI and DEAP alum Amadin Agho said. "It was just that common, fun, and relaxing meeting ground. I think that was one of the most impactful things."
Jocelyne Hernandez was an undergraduate student at IUPUI from 2015 to 2019 and served as a DEAP peer mentor for the second half of her time there. She said the Career CoNEXTions event helped her change her career choice and shared that peer mentoring was her favorite part of the program.
"I think my favorite part really was being a peer mentor, like getting the opportunity to give the support that I got as a freshman," Hernandez said. "I really am one who believes that I wouldn't have gotten through college without my village, without my support system, and DEAP was a part of that. And so, to have the opportunity to give back, not only with being a peer mentor, but the different community service opportunities that we're able to do with DEAP, is really meaningful to me."
In 2016, a task force on Black/African American access and retention was formed, which led to an increase in DEAP participants. In the fall of 2015, DEAP had 74 student participants. By the fall of 2016, the number had jumped to 201 student participants.
Today DEAP continues to provide students with career opportunities and ways to find academic success through the peer mentorship program and advising support.
In the last year, DEAP has hosted a graduation ceremony for its students and an induction night to celebrate its new members, as well as hosting their annual Career ConNEXTions night. Most recently, they hosted a Life After Graduation panel discussion and dinner to give DEAP students the opportunity to speak with alumni about what life after graduation was like for them.
DEAP’s commitment to creating a safe environment for underrepresented students shows through in retention rates for the program. A 2021 report revealed that the one-year retention rate among DEAP students (79%) was higher than that of non-DEAP students (63%). During the 2021–2022 academic year, DEAP served a total of 633 students.
Charron Hull, a sophomore majoring in elementary education who started at IUPUI in 2021 and a current DEAP student, shares how she recommends DEAP to her peers.
"Especially being a person of color, having those groups like DEAP is very important, especially being on a PWI (predominantly white institution) campus,” Hull said. “Knowing that you have a safe space to go within a campus like this and knowing that there’s people who look like you and can help you is important. I try to recommend DEAP to anybody; DEAP is for everybody. If you need that extra help or that push, you’ll find it there.”
DEAP’s triumph over the last decade in creating a safe space for underrepresented students on campus and its contributions to its students’ success was cause for celebration.
On March 31, DEAP is celebrating its 10-year anniversary at an event with staff; alumni, like Agho and Hernandez; and current students. Interim Chancellor Klein and Khalilah Shabazz will both be in attendance.
Cory Clark, DEAP’s current director, shares his excitement for the celebration event.
"It's going to be a great night for our program and this monumental achievement, and not just being able to see where it's been, but also feeling confident about where it's going,” Clark said.
Clark shared his hopes for the future of DEAP and what he hopes the program can achieve in another 10 years. Clark also hopes that the program will continue to grow and expand, and with that, he hopes a larger DEAP lounge is in the future.
“I just want our program to grow,” Clark said. “Whether that's from a staff perspective, from a student perspective, from a space perspective, from a mentor, upperclassmen, in the residence hall, but essentially, I want the program to grow. That's what it has been doing, and I want to continue that growth, particularly as we begin to be able to impact IU Indy.”