Diversity makes life more fun,
says UPD Officer Sue Stewart
By Audrey Webb
Texas State University takes diversity very seriously, ensuring all students their education and campus involvement will not be impeded by their race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability, veterans’ status or sexual orientation. This commitment is ingrained in the Texas State culture — from such programs as the Allies of Texas State to courses that lead to a minor in diversity studies. In fact, in order to register a student organization, the group’s founders must sign a statement agreeing that “the university has a special responsibility to seek cultural diversity, to instill a global perspective in its students and to nurture sensitivity, tolerance and mutual respect.”
The commitment to making Texas State a place where diversity is embraced extends far beyond written words on a page. Sue Stewart, recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Diversity staff award and a 10-year veteran of the Texas State University Police Department, embodies diversity not only as part of her job, but also as part of her life philosophy.
“Diversity is just fun. It just is,” says Stewart. “I have found that as a police officer, if you can connect with people then you can talk about things more easily. For me, it’s important to understand why people do the things they do, mainly because it’s interesting.”
Stewart grew up in Fort Stockton in a predominantly Hispanic community. After she graduated from high school, Stewart followed in the footsteps of her oldest brother — “I thought he just hung the moon,” she says — and joined the military as a police officer.
“There needs to be a lot of diversity in the military and you need to be very accepting of each other. As a police officer in the military, you have to rely on everybody else around you,” says Stewart.
After she left the military, Stewart recognized the importance of a college education: “What prompted me to go to college was realizing that police work is incredibly dangerous and if something happened to me so that I couldn’t do police work anymore, I needed to be able to make a living,” she says.
She began working and studying at Texas State in 2002. Her initial introduction to on-campus diversity issues was through the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, where she fulfilled the requirements of an internship as part of her undergraduate degree in occupational education. Stewart graduated in 2007 but continues to be a part of diversity groups on campus.
“College isn’t just about being educated in the classroom, it’s about being educated in the world that you live in,” says Stewart.
When her efforts were acknowledged with last year’s Excellence in Diversity award, Stewart was a little surprised. “Honestly, my thoughts were, ‘I got an award for this?’ For me, it’s fun. For me, it’s a reward to do it.”