Texas Tech University

Profiles in Fostering a Diverse and Inclusive Community: Nefertiti Beck

Amanda Castro-Crist

November 19, 2019

Nefertiti Beck

The director of Texas Tech’s Student Intersectional Leadership Council shares her thoughts on working with a variety of student communities and helping make the campus more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

In 1923, Texas Tech University welcomed its first class of 914 students. Since then, the university has grown to include more than 40,000 people who come from their hometowns around the world to teach, learn and work at Texas Tech.

In 2019, the university achieved official designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), an effort of the entire university community serving the needs of its diverse campus. The HSI designation makes Texas Tech eligible for up to $10 million in additional funding from the U.S. Department of Education to support the enhancement of educational opportunities for all students. As the Texas Tech community celebrates this achievement, students, faculty and staff are taking a moment to reflect not just on their own time in Raiderland, but also to celebrate those who have worked to make Texas Tech a more diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

Nefertiti Beck of Omaha, Nebraska, is a doctoral candidate in the Texas Tech University College of Education's Counselor Education Program. She also is the director of the Student Intersectional Leadership Council (SILC) within the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DDEI).

SILC provides leadership opportunities focusing on intersectionality, interpersonal and intercultural leadership development and building inclusive communities of students through education, advocacy, social justice, heritage celebrations, cultural competence and global engagement. Students lead the university in organizing and celebrating cultural and heritage programs, events, weeks and months that foster a diverse community at Texas Tech.

How long have you worked at Texas Tech and in what roles? What types of activities have you been involved in at the university?
Since arriving at Texas Tech in 2007, Beck has served as a residence life coordinator, associate director of Upward Bound programs and assistant director of graduate student services in the College of Education's Curriculum and Instruction Program.

"I also have been involved with Chi Sigma Iota and the Black Graduate Student Association, and have advised a few student groups," she said. "I've had opportunities to present at area, state, regional and national conferences. My outreach and research includes working with African American women with HIV and AIDS, along with exploring sexual decision making of African American women. Right now, we are planning for the Scarlet Gathering in December as a tribute to World AIDS Day. Texas Tech needs this, and so does the Lubbock community."

Beck has served as director of SILC since August 2018, where she works to bring visibility and empowerment to the university's diverse student body. SILC's mission is to encourage a campus culture that values respect, identity and service; enriches the lives of students by ensuring equity of opportunity; and celebrates the identity and diversity of students by raising collective awareness of cultural heritage.

How do you personally relate to your work?
Advocacy and cultural competence are important to Beck.

"In my position in DDEI, I am afforded the opportunity to assist students in not only exploring and developing their identities and finding their voice, but also utilizing it to foster better selves and communities," she said.

What motivates you to continue the work you're doing at the university?
"I have a passion for helping people move through their processes, whether that be personal, academic or professional," Beck said. "We all need guidance and assistance at times. I love being able to be that person, not only for the students I work with, but also the community as a whole."

As Texas Tech approaches its 100th year, with a community that is its most diverse ever, how do you think your work has contributed to a campus environment that reflects diversity, equity and inclusion?
Part of the work SILC focuses on is bringing together the different communities on campus.

"My work with SILC has contributed to the campus environment by providing students with an opportunity to not only find their voice, but use it to impart education and positive change in the Texas Tech community," Beck said. "We can't say we value inclusion, yet be so fragmented. Students are learning more about other cultures and identities through education and celebration. We carry our identities 24/7, 365 days per year, not just one week or one month out of the year. My hope is that the more diversity is celebrated, the greater the level of true acceptance."

Can you tell us of a faculty or staff member who made an impact on your life and your work?
Beck said there have been a couple of different people who have made an impact on her during her time at Texas Tech and beyond. But the one who has had the greatest impact is Peggie Price, a retired professor from the College of Education's Curriculum and Instruction Program. The two met when Beck was interviewing for a staff role within the program.

"I needed to finish my coursework to stay on track," Beck said. "I got a good feeling about her during the interview. Once I started working for her, we had a great dynamic. She entrusted me with many things that helped make the program run during that time. She was honest with me, direct in her communication and encouraged me to trust myself in the process.

"I can't thank her enough for pouring into me. She definitely made a difference in my life."

As Texas Tech University continues to foster a culture of excellence, diversity and inclusivity, it's efforts like those from Nefertiti Beck and the Student Intersectional Leadership Council that will continue to show students, faculty and staff, from here, it's possible.