Intergroup Relations

Elena Ross and Gloriela Iguina-Colón, IGR's Student Engagement Coordinators

With courses, workshop programs, research projects, and more, IGR's students work in a number of different settings. In 2014, we decided we needed a way to tie them together as a community. Thus, the Student Engagement Team (SET) was born. Read below to learn about the work of the SET team and what's happening in 2015!

As the Student Engagement Team co-coordinators, Elena Ross and Gloriela Iguina-Colòn work to unite all those involved with IGR in various capacities. They write:

"Here are some of the ways we do this:

  • We partner with CommonGround for monthly open dialogues, during which anyone on campus can come to engage in important conversation about a specific social justice-related topic that is particularly relevant on campus during that time.
  • We collaborate with Trotter Multicultural Center to plan “Feel Good Fridays,” during which students from across the IGR community are encouraged to come together in a fun, social setting and relax together at the end of a long week.
  • We have ongoing projects that aim to cultivate a deeper sense of community across IGR, including the creation of a photo wall, which displays photographs of each student and staff member involved with IGR.
  • We are responsible for organizing IGR study hours before final exams.

We are always looking for new and innovative ideas to enhance our community, so feel free to contact us at any time with your thoughts!

And now, here's a little about each of us:

Elena Ross

 My name is Elena Ross and I am a senior studying Psychology with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. I am from Beachwood, Ohio - a very Jewish suburb on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio - and I have been involved with IGR since the very beginning of my freshman year.

When I first arrived on campus, I was already enrolled in an Intergroup Dialogue. I was placed in the White Racial Identity topic, which proved to be entirely life-changing in more ways than one. Since taking that class, I have attempted to stay involved with IGR each semester in any way possible. My second semester on campus, I trained to become a dialogue facilitator, and I am now facilitating for the second time. I have also participated in Arab/Jewish dialogue research, and am now a member of the Student Engagement Team.

The students and staff at IGR are all exceptionally kind, thoughtful, and passionate, and it is this intoxicating energy that has motivated me to devote more and more hours to IGR throughout my college experience. IGR offered me a space on campus - both physical and spiritual - where I felt free to be myself. It filled a void that I desperately needed filled as an intimidated freshman on this large campus, and it continues to fulfill me to this day. As a member of the Student Engagement Team, I hope to make this space and community more accessible to all members of the IGR community.

Since I have been involved with IGR in so many different capacities over such a large span of time, I feel that my most impactful contribution to the Student Engagement Team is a deep understanding of what the student body wants from IGR. For over three years, I have heard the praises and complaints of the student body regarding dialogue, research, CommonGround, and IGR’s campus presence in general. Additionally, I have watched IGR grow and change over time and have gotten to know many faculty members quite well. Through strong relationships with IGR staff, alumni, and current students, I have come to understand the values and needs of the IGR community as a whole. I am also sincerely passionate about uniting IGR students from across the different specialities. I am so excited to work on the SET and watch how, through our events and open dialogues, we will all have the opportunity to get to know each other in more concrete, deep, and meaningful ways.


Gloriela Iguina-Colón

My name is Gloriela Iguina-Colón and I am a sophomore studying International Studies and minoring in Environmental Science.  My freshman year I took an Intergroup Dialogue focusing on Race and Ethnicity. It was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. By far the most diverse classroom I had been part of at Michigan, I saw this class as a haven for all the issues I knew mattered to me but had never gotten a chance to explore. This lead me to want to get involved with IGR more. When I heard about the Student Engagement Team I was thrilled. I am so honored to be creating a greater sense of community this wonderfully diverse group of thoughtful and engaging people. Elena and I will work hard to create events and dialogues that truly promote the inquisitive and inclusive spirit of IGR.

My life has been a continuous balancing act between cultures and people of differing values. As a Puerto Rican girl growing up in New York City, I have had the advantage of meeting people from all over the world. The challenge was keeping my identity intact while also allowing myself to be open to new ideas and cultural practices, Thus, changing and growing as a result of this myriad of these cultural encounters. Although they were all different in some way, these experiences taught me a lifelong lesson that has become central to who I am. And now increasingly IGR has become part of my life on campus and the person I want to be. I am thrilled to be working as part of the SET and look forward to meeting more of the extraordinary people who are part of the IGR family and welcome those who are not to join us. I have greatly benefitted from being surrounded by an enriching diversity and I will strive to foster more interaction and understanding amongst people of different racial backgrounds. We see a lack of this on campus and I think we would all benefit from learning from each other. Please feel free to contact either me or Elena and give us suggestions for what you want to see at IGR!