Diversity Celebration Speaker Series returns in person April 19

Headshots of Pacheco and Barkhoff

From left: Diversity Celebration Series speaker Misty Pacheco and CHSHS Dean Harald Barkhoff

April 6, 2022

CSUMB’s “Strength Through Diversity” awareness campaign aims to build on our ongoing commitment to inclusive excellence. Stories, social media posts, and special events throughout the academic year will celebrate diversity and highlight the many identity groups represented by the students, faculty, staff, and alumni that make up the CSUMB community. April is National Minority Health Month.

By Marielle Argueza

The Diversity Celebration Speaker Series hosted by the College of Health Sciences and Human Service is back and in person this month. This year’s series will also usher in two brand new awards: the CHSHS Excellence in Social Justice Faculty/Staff Award and the CHSHS Excellent Student Award. The awards honor CSUMB community members who have demonstrated a commitment to the advancement of social justice, equity and inclusion within the university or in the campus community since Jan. 1, 2021.

“We usually offer four events, and during COVID we actually offered eight online events,” said Kat McHenry with the CHSHS dean’s office. “This year, it’s not only going to be a big in-person event, but an intentional one that is reflective of CSUMB’s values, diverse student population and experience. We’re making a real conscious effort to give something students really want,” said McHenry.

Originally the vision of former dean Britt Rios-Ellis, the series is meant to inspire students and faculty to innovate in their fields, become inspired by their identities, and celebrate the diversity of others. The series achieved its goals via bringing in diverse speakers for various national and international observances, such as Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, World AIDS Day and Minority Health Month. The series is now headed by current CHSHS Dean Harald Barkhoff.

“I truly believe in shared governance, a college vision with all our units together and a celebration of diversity in the most holistic and broad sense of the word, ” Barkhoff said. He joined CSUMB in Fall 2021 and knows the legacy of the series as a locus of ingenuity and inclusion. 

Barkhoff dove into his own diverse network at his former institution, University of Hawaii at Hilo, to kick off the series. In observance of National Minority Health Month, he contacted his former colleague, Misty Pacheco, an associate professor of kinesiology and exercise sciences at UH Hilo and a doctor of public health. 

A Native Hawaiian, Pacheco will not only speak on navigating public health, but the minority health experience overall. She herself has a unique experience growing up as a native Hawaiian in an indigenous community. But apart from her academic goals, she was also an accomplished hula dancer and saw first hand what public health looked like for her immediate community. 

Inspired by her culture and upbringing, Pacheco’s talk will center on the minority health experience through a framework drawn by her indigenous culture known as “Na Pou Kihi.” Also known as “the corner posts,” the framework posits that the establishment of social justice, a healthy diet, environmental stewardship, and indigenous cultural spaces all work to the overall benefit and health of Native Hawaiians. It’s that cultural lens, that Barkhoff and the surrounding community that helps shape the Diversity Series, equally value in their speakers.

“In her case, it’s her personal experience, growing up in an indigenious community that informed her academic goals,” said Barkhoff. “We often think there is only one way to get to certain places in a career, but that’s really not the case. We want to show students, that no matter your background, or if it takes longer, that there are ways to get there.”

The Diversity Celebration Series with speaker Misty Pacheco begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, at the CSUMB Otter Student Union Ballroom. This event will also be livestreamed. For more information go to