Advocate for change - Landon Coles

Advocates for Change – Student Leaders at the U

Landon Coles, Class of 2022

By Student Leaders

Landon Coles, Class of 2022

Advocates for Change – Student Leaders at the U

By Student Leaders
Students from the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) council reflect on what it means to be a leader on campus, how they feel they are making a difference, and the impact it has had on their educational goals. 
Chelsea Salnave
Chelse Salnave, Class of 2022
Student Organization Liaison - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Majors: Finance and Health Management & Policy

"Being a leader on campus is more than holding positions in organizations. It is about inserting yourself into rather spaces to become a more well-rounded, well-versed individual. While of course, the common definition of a leader comes from having “titles,” know that you can make a change and be a voice on campus by simply listening. I feel I am personally making a difference by having those complex conversations with my peers, then sharing, and ultimately encouraging others to get more involved so they can create their own takeaways.

My leadership on campus has encouraged me to want more for myself and to truly believe that I have the power to create viable, long-lasting change – not only in my communities but, someday, the world. I plan to go to law school to be that voice for those who do not have the power to speak up for themselves. By taking the lessons I have learned while on this campus, I am confident in my abilities to reach my highest goals."


Ian Malesiewski, Class of 2022
Accessibility Services Liaison - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Major: Neuroscience


"I am involved in countless leadership endeavors on campus but I am most proud to serve as the accessibility liaison for the newly established Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) council in the undergraduate Student Government. In this leadership role, I work with the university administration and student body to create the most accessible campus possible.

As a student in a wheelchair, I take pride in advocating for people with disabilities just like myself. This opportunity has impacted my career and educational aspirations. Specifically, I now plan to attend law school to advocate for and impact legislation that affects the lives of all people living with mobility disorders."

Landon Coles
Landon Coles, Class of 2022
Director - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Major: Political Science

"With a faith-based background, I was raised to esteem highly the values of inclusivity and equity recognizing the common humanity in all people. These values, which serve as my compass in all that I do, led me to the University of Miami in the fall of 2018. At first, I struggled to acclimate as a Black male on a predominantly white campus. However, I persevered and found safe spaces across campus.

Beginning with United Black Students and Multicultural Student Affairs, the foundations for my engagement in student life, I began to hone my innate skills for advocacy. As I expanded my involvements to Student Government, Homecoming, and other opportunities, I found a shared commitment to activism, equity, and inclusion across the university community. I found a voice in connecting students of multicultural backgrounds with these spaces that welcomed new students with open arms.

Moving forward, I will use my experiences at the University to continue to advocate for all people as a public servant with our federal government and hopefully, one day, the White House."

Jamie Williams-Smith
Jamie Williams-Smith, Class of 2023
Diversity Training Officer - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Majors: Business Technology and Public Relations

"To be a leader on UM’s campus means to engage in what you are passionate about and advocate for those passions in and out of the classroom.  

I am making a difference on campus by overlapping the organizations and projects I am involved in. Recently, I helped the business school organize a Black Lives Matter & Well-Being conversation around the murder of George Floyd and social justice issues. As the Vice President of Professional Activities of Delta Sigma Pi, I made this event mandatory for the chapter to attend. The intersectionality of these two roles allowed for me to target and engage more students in an essential dialogue. 

My leadership on campus has influenced me to pursue a minor in public relations to help me build stronger problem-solving and decision-making skills that I can use now and in the future."

Gustavo Tovar
Gustavo Tovar, Class of 2022
Student Life Liaison - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Majors: Marine Affairs and Geology

"Growing up, I lacked self-confidence. I knew I wanted to lead the cause for change in the world, but I lacked the skills and resources to do so. In time, I recognized the need to seek change within myself in order to effect change in others. As I arrived at the University of Miami, I homed in on the skills I felt made a good leader, which to me encompassed various aspects of humility: humor, authenticity, and transparency.

Each of the leadership experiences have given me tools to make a difference on campus, whether that is ensuring Orientation is a memorable experience for incoming students, continuing the long-honored traditions of Homecoming, or seeking to better the student experience within my role in Student Government. These roles have greatly supplemented my education with a hands-on perspective.

Ultimately, my word to the wise is to always pursue and be receptive to goals that challenge your life’s perspective."

Micah Council
Micah Council, Class of 2020
Polling and Distribution Officer - Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
Major: Economics

"Being a leader on a college campus goes far beyond campus involvement. To me, it means optimizing the resources afforded to me to generate a positive, lasting impact. As the Polling and Distribution chair on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, my goal is to nurture an inclusive learning community that actively values and interacts with the breadth of diversity present on campus. In my role, I gauge sentiments of diversity and inclusion among undergraduates. The data collected helps make such an environment possible.

In addition to my involvement with the DEI Council, I am on the executive leadership team for Inspire U—a service-based mentorship organization that pairs accomplished UM students with high school students from inner-city Miami. Furthermore, I attended the annual ACC Leadership Conference, where I learned about leading during contentious societal times.

These and other involvements have reaffirmed my interests in social change and public policy. Soon after completing my undergraduate degree in Economics, I plan to attend law school."