The Impact of Diversity and Inclusion on “Her”


Ndayishimiye Florence giving her speech for the Oratorical Contest during Inauguration Week.

Ndayishimiye Florence, Guest Writer

Her, the speech given by Ndayishimiye Florence, winner of the Oratorical Contest on the importance of diversity and inclusion at Presbyterian College:

When I think of why I value diversity, I think of her. I think of her being born to a Congolese and Burundian mother and a Rwandan father in a land that was not her own. A land she considered her refuge from the war happening to her people. 

She was forced to watch her people existing one day and disappearing the next. Until one day, a savior came and took her to the place where some of her people had disappeared. A place known as the promised land. 

Her savior gave her a lesson that she would keep for the rest of her life. She was told how lucky she was that she was not dark and could pass as an American, unlike her mother who would have to bleach her skin in order to survive. 

In her American class, she learned how unlucky she truly was. She would constantly have to listen to her teachers call her by the wrong name – Froresi was too hard to say, but Ndayishimiye was pretty and unique. She had to change her way of dressing or risk listening to her classmates ridicule her for being the weird kid. 

She would have to learn the language to understand and survive the new world around her. In the new world, she would have to constantly be considered an abomination. A girl that is too American for her people and too African for her new friends. She would be stuck in two worlds and would eventually have to decide which world was less painful. 

As she grew older, she had regrets because picking one world meant losing a part of herself. The part that made her unique. The part that valued traditions and being a part of a beautiful culture. She became someone she herself didn’t recognize. 

She had the pleasure of being selected to go to a school in a small town that didn’t even exist on the map until she arrived on campus. A school she had to choose over hundreds of years of traditions, and ultimately over her mother. 

In this school, however, is when she began to discover herself again and found who she is as a woman. In this town, she found her home in being a Blue Hose and learned the meaning of the word diversity. She found what it meant to be accepted and included without having to feel like giving up on herself in the process. 

As a Blue Hose, she found her voice and the person she truly is. She is me and I am Her, and we are Ndayishimiye Froresi. A Burundian, Rwandan, Congolese American Woman. A woman born in a refugee camp who found safety in the pursuit of the American dream. A woman who understands that the meaning of diversity and inclusion is not feeling like an abomination, an outcast, or someone who has to change themselves in order to be heard. 

I AM HEARD, I AM ACCEPTED, I AM INCLUDED. I am unapologetically HER!