On a  warm, sunny Sunday that seemed to indicate that spring had finally arrived, seniors Akilah Elie ’17 and Megan Boateng ’17 celebrated a new beginning by unveiling the website for Diversity Exchange, an online platform connecting students of color with opportunities to succeed in their career fields. 

The Diversity Exchange was conceived after Elie and Boateng attended a social impact conference in summer 2016. “We thought about how we could take what we learned from the conference and bring it here,” Elie explained during the event. “We saw that there was a need for students of color to have access to certain opportunities, so we wanted to centralize all these resources into one place.” 

The project originally started in January 2017 as an email listserv containing weekly opportunities. However, with the addition of Yanique Seac ’17 to the team as a web developer, Diversity Exchange as an online hub turned into a reality. 

Elie and Boateng gave the audience a detailed tour of the website, explaining how each section opens the door for students of color to network not only with current students at Brandeis, but also with alumni. 

The Motivation Monday section highlights news stories and videos featuring inspirational people of color, while the Wisdom Wednesdays page shares advice and perspectives from students and professionals of color. Student Spotlights — open to anyone — highlights Brandeis students of color by sharing their stories in an interview format. 

The student tab includes two resources: The Student Network and The Exchange. The Student Network gives participants the opportunity to create a personalized bio (complete with the option of uploading a resume), visible to both fellow students and any alumni connected to Diversity Exchange. The Exchange is a forum where students can ask questions, share interesting links or engage in conversation with other members of the Diversity Exchange community. 

Diversity Exchange goes beyond just connecting students by opening opportunities for students to connect with alumni. For example, the Company section links to both domestic and international companies currently advertising openings. 

The Opportunities section consists of a more comprehensive list of internships, fellowships and jobs, as well as a form to submit opportunities. 

Also included on the website is a section dedicated to a scholarship newly established by Elie and Boateng. This scholarship is geared toward first-years of color who have not received financial aid from the school. As Boateng further explained, “Knowing that coming in, a lot of students do struggle financially, academically, we wanted to help lighten that load.” 

During a brief question-and-answer session, the two co-founders offered advice to students wanting to start a business. Elie encouraged, “use your activism in any form you would like. You don’t have to be a political person or have a lot of money; just use your platform you have now to do amazing things.” 

Boateng added, “Stick to what you’re passionate about and think about the people coming after you.”

In an interview with the Justice, Boateng shared a little of the behind-the-scenes work done during the development stages. 

Although the co-founders initially approached the Hiatt Career Center for help starting the project, they ultimately decided to move forward on their own. 

Boateng also shared that Diversity Exchange received funding from the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance. Getting funding approved was a relatively easy process and BPA was a good resource for thinking of creative applications for projects, said Boateng. 

Elie and Boateng not only had current and future Brandesians of color in mind when they initially began their project, but they also hope to expand Diversity Exchange to other schools. 

Boateng, for example, will attend medical school and hopes to bring Diversity Exchange with her. Both co-founders would like Diversity Exchange to be a resource open to students of color, regardless of location. 

Boateng concluded, “Even though we leave this school, we still hold you guys dear to our hearts, and we want you guys to always know that we’re thinking about people after us. We hope that you will do the same.”