Two faculty members from Samford University’s School of Public Health are giving a new meaning to “fellowship.”
Ahinee Amamoo and Courtney Haun are the inaugural Diversity Faculty Fellows for the Office of Diversity and Intercultural Initiatives (ODII).
“Samford is truly a place in which God dwells,” Amamoo said. “My desire is that every person, who steps on the campus whether a student, parent, faculty member, staff personnel, contractor or visitor will experience the presence of God. Furthermore, I hope that they will see the world to be, a place where we ‘celebrate diversity and inclusion while promoting respect for others,’ as God intended.”
Amamoo joined Samford in 2016 and currently serves as a professor in the Department of Public Health and as the director of graduate studies in the School of Public Health.
Amamoo joined the Diversity Faculty Fellowship because it offers a unique opportunity to help develop programs and initiatives that encourage diversity and cross-cultural experiences across campus.
“Upon joining the faculty at Samford, I was drawn to the efforts of ODII to encourage diversity and inclusion across campus,” Amamoo said. “As a result, I have volunteered in many capacities whether as a mentor or speaker for student activities on campus, as a guest speaker during ODII heritage month series and as a co-leader of the Lead with Love Poverty simulations. However, my most recent work is as the School of Public Health representative to the Racial Justice Task Force and the Diversity Action Plan committee. I look forward to helping implement and evaluate the recommendations brought forth by these committees.”
Working with ODII has provided Amamoo with unique opportunities to work with diverse groups and to enhance her ability to listen effectively, advocate efficiently and continue to love unconditionally.
“What better place is there than higher education to challenge our thoughts and beliefs?” she said. “Diversity allows you the opportunity to meet, engage and learn from various cultures, generations, belief models and backgrounds, thus opening the way to expanding into more inclusive institutions.”
Amamoo is actively working to learn more about the best practices for incorporating opportunities of diversity into the curriculum and university policies. She plans to further grow in service and leadership roles or administrative roles where she can implement her findings and practices she has learned throughout the Diversity Faculty Fellowship.
Haun joined Samford in 2020 and serves the university as the director of the health care administration undergraduate program and as its internship coordinator.
“It has been a joy to see the collaboration and combined efforts taking place across campus,” she Haun. “The multiple opportunities taking place are what I would consider ‘meeting people where they are.’ A recent newsletter from the office highlighted just that—opportunities in person, online, for the broader community, in smaller group settings, at various times/days, and multiple settings. I have taken part in a variety of these events and have also invited the ODII to the classes that I teach.”
Haun is working closely with the ODII to see the spirit of collaboration that has represented her time at Samford continue to thrive.
Haun’s scholarly work has also been supported by the ODII through the Diversity Development Grant, which is available to students, faculty and staff whose proposals, funded by this grant, work to enhance the retention of under-represented faculty and staff, foster diversity and inclusion across the curriculum and/or focus on scholarship related to diversity on Samford’s campus.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in higher education is part of my personal mission,” she said. “As a first-generation college graduate in my family, I have also worked to identify first-generation students here at Samford and support initiatives for this group of students. My hope is that through my leadership, teaching and research that I can not only transform the current workplace but also have a greater, positive impact on others in the broader community.”
Her passion for diversity and inclusion began during her doctoral journey, where she saw leaders in higher education champion this endeavor.
“I was blessed with tremendous mentors and champions of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Haun said. “They taught me the value of research, dissemination of information and living as an example of the changes wished for. Their great mentorship continues to motivate me as I am now in the mentor role for my students and colleagues.”