Campus Leader Tamica Lige Working for Change and Inclusion

Staff Award recipient in multiculturalism encourages others to be uncomfortable in order to be able to grow.
Staff award recipient Tamica Lige and Chancellor Mauli Agrawal

The staff of the School of Pharmacy initiated Tamica Lige’s nomination for the Excellence in Multiculturalism, Globalism, Diversity and Inclusion Staff Award, but her support and influence across the UMKC campuses are broad.

“I am passionate about diversity and inclusion because I am passionate about people,” Lige says. “It might sounds cliché, but to me life is about the relationships and the connections we form with others. Diversity lends richness to our lived experience and helps us see the world through varied perspectives.”

Lige, who is the site coordinator in the School of Pharmacy, is an advocate for building relationships through collaboration and partnership across disciplines and organizations to develop stronger networks for underrepresented minority students and foster student success.

One supporter mentioned Lige’s ability to lead by example. 

“She has a way with people that allows her to turn ‘ouch’ moments into teaching moments.”

Lige says she sees the value in an awkward encounter.

“We all have to get used to being uncomfortable and know that we will be better for it,” she says. “When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn. Diversity training is not the end all be all for change, but it is a good place to start. It positions people with the knowledge and tools to meaningfully and productively engage in difficult conversations, and liberates mindsets.”

“We each have to hold ourselves accountable for change.” – Tamica Lige

Lige believes that as an institution of higher education, UMKC has a responsibility to prepare students to exist in, navigate through and contribute to a diverse world.

“In order to affect attitudes and behavioral change, we must lead with empathy and create a space where everyone can be authentically themselves,” she says.

Lige was overwhelmed when she discovered her co-workers had nominated her for the staff award.

“When I found out that I had been nominated and selected, I actually cried,” Lige says. “Social justice work, while difficult at times, satisfies my soul.”

Lige hopes that her work will continue to foster broader understanding. While she notices that there is a core group of committed people focused on diversity, equality and inclusion at the university, she hopes their influence will spread.

“I would challenge students, faculty, staff and administrators to use the buddy system and bring at least one friend with you when you attend a diversity training or event on campus,” she says. “We each have to hold ourselves accountable for change.”

In addition, she encourages members of the community to step outside of their usual routines and interactions and get to know people who are different from them.

“Break out of your comfort zone and move through your environment in a way you never have before,” Lige says. “When people feel valued, respected, included and able to be their true selves, morale goes up, productivity increases and creativity soars. Diversity is everything.”

Lige knows that changes don’t just happen, but are the result of working with purpose.

“When you have genuine interactions with people different than you, amazing things start to happen.”

“Someone recently told me, ‘Your greatness does not come from what you have, but instead from what you give.’ I hope that what I give makes a difference. I am only a small pebble but even the smallest pebbles make ripples in the water.”

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Published: May 22, 2019