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In becoming Connecticut treasurer, Erick Russell offers students a model of diversity

State Treasurer Erick Russel.
Brian Scott-Smith
State Treasurer Erick Russell.

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Diversity Week kicked off on Monday.

State Treasurer Erick Russell was the keynote speaker at the event. He spoke to students and faculty about being the first openly gay African American elected to a statewide office in the U.S.

“It was critical for me to come in, not only in the office but even when I ran to really run as my authentic self,” Russel said. “Run as someone who grew up with very little. Run as someone who grew up in a tough neighborhood. Run, you know, as the first person in my family to graduate from college. Run being openly gay and having my husband by my side throughout my campaign.”

Russell said there has to be more diversity in the types of people who run for public office.

“Conversations around diversity and inclusion are so critical, and Eastern has done such an incredible job both with this program just making diversity and inclusion a priority here at the campus,” Russel said. “And I’m happy to be here and support it."

"I obviously am a product of a lot of this work myself and it’s always been something that I’m passionate about," he continued. "And I think as we have more diversity and more inclusion bringing different perspectives to the table we ultimately end up with a better product."

Eastern’s Diversity week will conclude with a Take Back The Night event, which seeks to empower survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

The event also remembers student Alyssiah Wiley, who was murdered in 2013 as a result of domestic violence.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.