Sophomore Aims to Create a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion in Greek Life

April 27, 2022 | News, UToday, Alumni, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Laren Kowalczyk

Jada Alcantara’s experience helping to organize a Black Lives Matter protest a few weeks before graduating high school in 2020 ignited her passion for speaking up and inspiring change.

“What I did in June 2020 really defined who I am,” she said. “It changed my mindset about so many things. That march fueled the passion behind my diversity, equity and inclusion work.”

Jada Alcantara, a sophomore in UToledo’s cosmetic science and formulation design program, is Chi Omega sorority’s first diversity, equity and inclusion chair.

Alcantara arrived at The University of Toledo in fall 2020 from her hometown of Florham Park, N.J., and quickly got involved on campus. She joined the Chi Omega sorority and became the first person to hold the newly created position of diversity, equity and inclusion chair.

“There has to be a first,” Alcantara said. “There has to be someone who comes in and shakes the ground even if it’s not accepted by everyone.”

Alcantara is a sophomore in UToledo’s cosmetic science and formulation design program, the only undergraduate program of its kind in the country. Her interest in makeup started from watching YouTube tutorials at 8 years old.

She plans to carry her diversity, equity and inclusion work and experiences into her professional life as a cosmetic scientist to create makeup and beauty products inclusive of all skin types and tones.

In her role as DEI chair for the sorority, Alcantara built a framework for the position and incorporated diversity, equity and inclusion education into sorority chapter meetings and social activities.

She held a teach-in to share her experiences growing up in a predominantly white community, talked about the perceptions surrounding Greek life, and the work required to create an inclusive community. Alcantara also presented on gender identity and pronouns, held a tokenism pre-recruitment workshop and organized movie nights to celebrate various heritage months.

“Jada is everything you want in a leader, ambassador, friend and UToledo student,” said Sam Mauter, assistant director of campus events and visits in the Office of Undergraduate Admission, who works with Alcantara in her role as a campus tour guide. “She is passionate in whatever she takes on. I have been able to see her in many different roles and with each role, she amazes me. Her positivity and work ethic impacts the people around her. If she has her mind set on something, she will work to accomplish that. She has a lot of people cheering her on as she continues at UToledo and after.”

Alcantara’s desire to impart change on a broader scale inspired her to apply to be UToledo’s Panhellenic Conference President, a role she was elected to in December 2021. As president, Alcantara oversees operations and conduct of UToledo’s nine Panhellenic sororities, serving more than 600 women.

“I wanted the education I was doing to be for all chapters,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to do that by putting work into my chapter and hoping it trickles out. Working directly with every single chapter would have the effect I want it to have on the community.”

As part of that goal, Alcantara created a new position of vice president of equity, inclusion and diversity, purposefully titled in that order differently than traditional diversity, equity and inclusion roles.

“The only way you can obtain, maintain and retain diversity is if there’s a foundation of equity and framework for inclusion,” Alcantara said. “I hope that this position will educate our community on the dark, discriminatory past of Greek life so that history does not repeat itself, that it broadens students’ cultural and identity awareness, and serves as a uniting force.”

Alcantara was one of 13 students recently inducted into the Blue Key National Honor Society, a recognition of her work as a student leader.

Alcantara also recently accepted a summer internship with Shin-Etsu Silicones of America, Inc., a global chemical company specializing in silicone products. As a cosmetic chemist intern at their Paramus, N.J. location, Alcantara will be working with the lab manager to formulate and scale-up cosmetic and hair care formulations using the company’s silicone-based ingredients.

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