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Talking with Diontay Santiago, BS’21

Profiles | Feb 24, 2021 |

Diontay Santiago BS’21 is a superstar senior at the Gabelli School.

As president of Fordham’s Black Student Alliance, ASILI, he’s worked to help the school become a more hospitable environment for students of marginalized identities; he also helped create the Fordham Business Development Collaboratory. In addition, this marketing major found the time to become heavily involved in Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning, as a mentor in the History Makers Program and a participant in Global Outreach.

Where does your drive come from?

I’m motivated primarily by my family and friends. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to attend a good four-year university – a luxury that the majority of the people I grew up with haven’t had – so, I’ve always tried to push myself to my greatest potential here at Fordham. Almost all of the activities I’m a part of help me achieve change for the people around me and become a role model for other people from my community.

Fordham Club fair, Fall 2019.

If there’s one thing that you want people to know about the Gabelli School, what would it be?

I’d say that the school will teach you the value of collaboration and how to effectively navigate that – even if you don’t always have great chemistry with whoever you’re working with. These lessons start with the Ground Floor course, but they are especially present during the Consulting Cup, which has provided me with skills that I still utilize to this day. Diversity in the background of your team will lead to diversity in thought, which will subsequently lead to innovation!

What motivated you to work in the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer as a fellow?

I wanted to work with Rafael Zapata and Kendra Dunbar after meeting Rafael my sophomore year at a conference hosted by his office. After speaking with him, I realized how much his office’s mission aligned with the same things I wanted to do at Fordham: foster a more inclusive environment. The work his office does and the events they put on has definitely helped advance that agenda, and I’m proud to have contributed to that. 

The Black Solidarity Conference at Yale, Spring 2019.

What is the best thing the Gabelli School community can do to build a better understanding of racial justice issues?

I’ve implored my teachers and peers at the Gabelli School to look at issues of racial justice as more than an impediment to cash flow. A lot of companies within this last year have made reforms that they would not have made otherwise, for the sake of not alienating potential consumers and reducing profit margins. Racial justice has been treated like a trend by some, and I’ve never heard the issues of racial injustice discussed with so much frequency in my business courses before this year. If we are to make sustainable change, we need to see these problems as humanitarian issues and not as financial issues. 

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