“I am many facets of many things, all to be celebrated,” said CeCe Ridder, the new executive director of PSU’s Diversity and Multicultural Student Services. This philosophy was solidified by her experiences as a multiracial person and is a vision she sees reflected at Portland State.
“I am many facets of many things, all to be celebrated,” said CeCe Ridder, the new executive director of PSU’s Diversity and Multicultural Student Services.
This philosophy was solidified by her experiences as a multiracial person and is a vision she sees reflected at Portland State.
“We all have culture, we all have aspects of who we are,” said Ridder, who began work in December. “I think people think you have to be a person of color to plug in here, but that is so not true.”
Just looking out of her office at the student support lab, Ridder sees students from a range of backgrounds—from first-generation college students to parents supporting families, from students seeking computer and learning support to students wanting to debate social equality. She sees homeless students, middle-class students, and students from urban and rural areas alike.
“‘Diversity’ and ‘multicultural’ means everyone,” Ridder said. “That’s the beauty and scope of what we do and what we can do.”
Ridder is making sure her office is talking about pressing and sensitive issues—including undocumented students, mental health and advocacy.
She will oversee the PSU Cultural Centers, retention services and high school outreach programs such as the Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound.
DMSS provides academic and advising support to student populations whose access, retention and academic success are challenged by both contemporary and historical inequities.
But to many students, the centers simply provide a family.
“We are a home to many people for multiple reasons, typically touching on pieces of students’ social identity or intersections of their identity,” Ridder said.
Ridder hopes to build on DMSS’s many programs and culturally based centers.
“I look forward to working with students, to have the critical conversations needed on our campus to make this place as open and welcoming as it can be,” she said.
Ridder’s involvement in orientation, the student ambassadors program and other forms of undergraduate leadership led her on the path to a master’s degree in college student personnel. She has a doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Texas at Austin.
She also hopes to upgrade the office to match the university’s green standards.
“We’d also like to go as paperless as possible from an environmental sustainability standpoint,” Ridder said.
“There is always more work to be done,” she added. “It will and should never end.”