Skip to main content

“Beyond the Conversation” Series Celebrated Diversity and Inclusion

In collaboration with the Division of Student Affairs, ASI hosted its inaugural “Beyond the Conversation,” series aimed at creating engaging discussions around diversity and inclusion.


“We hope each student left our events a little bit more educated, inspired, and energized to better their Titan community and the other communities our students, faculty, and staff reside in,” said Austin Ysais, ASI’s Manager of Student Programming.


“Beyond the Conversation” is a year-long series of programmed events which includes community movie nights, modern philosophy lectures, Titan Talk and Paint, and Coffee and Conversations. The series was highlighted by a group of keynote speakers discussing topics revolving around numerous social issues and connected to Black History Month and Social Justice Week on campus. The speaker series entitled “A Conversation with…” featured actress Yara Shahidi in the fall, and activist Angela Davis, actor Daniel Dae Kim, and Olympic athlete Michael Phelps in the spring. Each speaker in the series discussed topics ranging from social justice to mental health awareness.


Shahidi is best known for her role on the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated “Black-ish” and on “Grown-ish.” She is a recent Harvard graduate, an advocate for STEM awareness, and the founder of WeVoteNext, an organization informing young people about the importance of voting.


Davis, an influential political activist for racial justice, spoke during Black History Month on February 24. She was one of the first speakers on campus since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Her appearance in the Titan Student Union also marked the 50th anniversary of her first guest lecture at Cal State Fullerton in 1972.


Known for his roles on “Lost” and “Hawaii-Five O,” Kim spoke to campus during Social Justice Week on March 17. The actor is an outspoken supporter for more Asian-American representation within the entertainment industry, and in recent years, he has even helped other creators from diverse backgrounds tell their stories through his production company, 3AD.


“A Conversation with Michael Phelps” concluded the “Beyond the Conversation” speaker series. Phelps, a winner of 28 Olympic medals in swimming, is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. After retiring, he has shifted his focus onto mental health. He now strives to help others realize their value while emphasizing the importance that needs to be placed on both physical and mental health.


The inaugural year of “Beyond the Conversation” was a resounding success. Over 1,300 students registered to attend the three in-person events for Davis, Kim, and Phelps in addition to those who viewed Shahidi’s virtual conversation before students returned to campus last Fall.


ASI Student Programming plans to continue the “Beyond the Conversation” series in the Fall.


“Our goal is to bring speakers from a range of different careers and with different accomplishments that inspire, educate, and energize students,” said Ysais. “I believe we did that in 2021-2022 and we will do that again in 2022-2023.”