A second-year student at UT, Alina Clay has designed a major through the College Scholars program entitled “Gender Inequality with a Focus in Eastern Europe and Latin America.” The Co-Director of the Student Government Association’s undergraduate Diversity Affairs Committee, she works to promote a more conscious and welcoming college environment by supporting and advancing diversity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives on campus. As mentioned in The Daily Beacon, her Russian-American identity has influenced her conceptualization of diversity as she views it as more than just superficial differences. This understanding has spurred her to work as a student activist to promote broader awareness and appreciation of others’ differences. She describes her resilience when facing adversity in her work: “Because you understand that what you’re doing breaks from the status quo that traditionally discriminates against so many different people, that is what gives you the power to continue.” Besides her work within SGA, Alina is a member of Vice Chancellor of Diversity Rickey Hall’s Student Advisory Council, Chancellor Cheek’s Civility Student Advisory Board, and the Chancellor’s Commission for Women and its Student Caucus, as well as an English as a Second Language instructor.
Michael Handelsman, professor of Hispanic studies and senior faculty director of the ONSF, said he saw something special in Clay from the first time he met her.
“I met Alina when she was a high school senior visiting UT,” he said. “On that visit, we discussed her interests in Latin America and the presence of the Soviet Union in Cuba during the Cold War. From that moment, I knew Alina was someone who understood that college is much more than just preparing for a job. Indeed, Alina is determined to develop her multiple talents and interests to become that socially responsible citizen who will contribute to positive change.”
Born in Russia, Clay was raised in the United States and is fluent in both Russian and Spanish. During this past academic year, she studied abroad at the University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia, where she was in the European Union-Russian Studies master’s program and interned at the Center for European Union-Russia Studies.
She was the 2014–15 co-director of UT’s Student Government Association’s Diversity Affairs Committee and helped pass campus policy, present workshops, and co-sponsor events related to diversity, accessibility, and inclusion.
She has taught English as a Second Language at Pond Gap Elementary School and Centro Hispano and is an undergraduate research assistant for Jana Morgan, professor of political science. Clay has also served on the vice chancellor of diversity’s Student Advisory Council, the Commission for Women, the Women in STEM Planning Committee, and the Undergraduate Research Student Association’s executive board.
The Pickering Fellowship program is managed and funded by the US Department of State and administered by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. It provides undergraduate and graduate students with financial support, mentoring, and professional development to prepare them academically and professionally for a career in the Foreign Service.
Thoughts on activism
"Working with others to fight for a cause inherently bigger than yourself," Clay said.
Currently, Clay is working toward a more civil and inclusive campus environment through her policy-centric student activism. Serving as co-director of Diversity Affairs, a member of Vice Chancellor for Diversity Rickey Hall's advisory council and the Commission for Women, Clay strives to push initiatives which promote the discussion and recognition of privilege and diversity on campus, including the "Gender-Neutral Bathrooms" bill as well as an upcoming civility campaign.
Clay said her personal experience as a Russian-American influenced her understanding of diversity, stating it is made up of more than just superficial differences, a realization that has inspired her to practice student activism and promote understanding amongst students. Clay said using policy to protect marginalized groups is what motivates her to continue her work.
Clay said, "Because you understand that what you're doing breaks from the status quo that traditionally discriminates against so many different people, that is what gives you the power to continue."
"Say Zir Name"
Dunford Hall room 2326 Thursday 12 November 2015, organized by UTK Progressive Student Alliance "Say Zir Name".
- Special guest Cazembe Jackson, our trans brother and bad ass organizer for South will share his story as a transman in the movement and how he held his comrades accountable for his pronouns. He will also make awareness for pronouns and elevating trans existance more intersectional mentioning policy brutality and mass incarceration of black transwomen.
Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Melanie Barron, Kristin Moretz, Lucy Greer, LaSabra LeeAnn Williams, Emily Gregg, Donna Bra-kay, Morgan Smith, Rachel West, Allison Joslin, Kristen Godfrey, Amira Sakalla, Caroline Rogers, Meghan Martin, Elizabeth Stanfield, Alina Clay, Jocelyn B. White, Gwen Schablik, Jamie Greig, Breann Cooper, Mary Geiser, Lindsay Jai, Cris Dark, Hanna Cat Wilkinson, Becca Payton, Genevieve Jeter, Priyam Madhukar, Leigh Belmont, Nicky Frazier, Courtney Anderson, Chelsey Verzosa, Charlotte Lee, Maggie Marsh, Erica Davis, Catherine Boggan, Alyssa Loveday, Hayley Brundige, Anna Masson, Karly Safar, Danielle Sapore, Sara Hitson, Emily Hoffman, Madeleine Lewis, Amanda Eleanor Pitts, Kennedy Childress, Deanna Nagle, Rachel Pilkinton, Ciara Louise Naomi, Evie Briley, Elizabeth Wright, Bailey Ayanna Allen, Katie Myers, Charice Starr, Colleen Ryan, Kelsey Theodore, Kamilya Gosmanova, Emily Robinson, Rae Jones, Kate Stamper, Carlie Nicole, Yasameen Hoffman-Shahin, Kaleb Emmert, Klay Ra Willyn, Travis Daniel Wilson, Brandon Shaw, Johnathan DeWitt Clayton, David Alex Hayes, Mitch Thompson, David Collins, Will Clifft, Ariel Tesla Farley, Joshua Brown, Don Black, Kumail Ibraheem, Andy Renison, William Dirmeyer, Benjamin D. Young, Adam Hughes, Ben McClendon, John Pena, Robert Cremins, Noah King, Mark McKee, Jack Petschulat, Jordan Welsh, Brandon Ray Darr, Jenishea Lewis, Alex Fields, Rodolfo Urquieta, Will Gabelman, JT Taylor, Dhruv Majumdar, Tyler Kibbey, Devin Earhart, Thomas Tran, Geoffrey M. Bennett Hervey, Harlan Mitchell, Wesley Shaun Malik Williams, Kendrick Young.