By Tucker Paquette
Deja Ware, a member of the Springfield College graduating class of 2019 and now the campus’ director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, has made quite the mark on Alden Street over the years.
However, Ware’s path to – and accomplishments at – Springfield College are as unique as they are impressive.
Ware was the first person to receive the William Beckett scholarship (Beckett was the first African-American to graduate from Springfield College), and she arrived at Springfield College feeling proud as a result.
“That was a great accomplishment, for me, to be selected,” Ware said. “My first encounter with [this] institution was President Cooper welcoming me at my high school and presenting me with my scholarship certificate.”
A first-generation college student, Ware entered college life with an open mind and a desire to leave no stone unturned.
“I did not know much about what to expect, I just knew that I was eager and excited,” Ware said.
Ware channeled that ambition and joined a wide variety of organizations on campus.
“You could probably ask anyone who’s still here at Springfield, during my time [here as a student] I was excited to jump into every club,” Ware said.
She was involved with student government at Springfield College, and was a leader for both New Student Orientation and June Orientation. Furthermore, Ware had a keen interest in working with people who came from a variety of different situations.
“I was really big on advocating for inclusion, students with varying abilities, racial identities, sexual orientations,” Ware said. “[Helping people in that realm] was what I wanted to do.”
Channeling this fascination with assisting those who may benefit from it more than others, Ware was dead set on being a teacher at the outset of her time at Springfield College.
“I had just left from a local high school [in Springfield] having [had] a great experience with one of my teachers, and I knew that was going to be my path,” Ware said.
However, a couple of years later, Ware would experience a change of heart. By the end of her junior year, she didn’t want to be a teacher anymore, but she was still interested in working in higher education.
Upon graduating from Springfield College, Ware worked at Holyoke High School, then went to American International College and contributed to their admissions department for three-and-a-half years.
Ware’s final title at American International College was Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admissions, before she returned to Springfield College, where she now serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
“The decision to come back [to work] at Springfield College was [made] effortless because as a student, the amount of support I received from faculty, staff and my peers was unmatched from anything that I’d experienced before,” Ware said. “I don’t think there was ever a time that someone wasn’t cheering for me and rooting me on to do better,. Upon [my] return, there has been no change [in that regard].”
An important part of Ware’s job at Springfield College is to come up with programs for the campus community on topics like activism and social justice, as well as to give people the chance to learn about how to better advocate for others.
“We’ll try to [continue] to uplift and bring awareness to traditionally marginalized groups, and also to create a safe and comfortable environment in our office space (which is in the Campus Union),” Ware said. “My job is to show up and support [the students and campus leaders who are doing this work].”
Even when she was not at Springfield College, Ware always spoke glowingly of the atmosphere at the institution.
“If anyone asked me [at my previous job], I’d refer to Springfield College as the Disney World of colleges,” Ware said. “It is the happiest place that [someone] could ever go as far as colleges [are concerned].”
Ultimately, Ware cherishes the memories she has made thus far on Alden Street, and hopes to help others make some of their own.
“The amount of support and love [people] receive is so genuine, it can never be recreated,” Ware said. “It is something people have to experience for themselves in order to know, [and] if students have an opportunity to experience that and I can be a part of helping to create that environment, then I want to do that.”
Photo Courtesy Springfield College