Ivan Okello joined the Mount Allison community this fall as the University’s first Black Student Advisor and Diversity Educator.
A new role within the Student Affairs team, Okello will be overseeing the development of programs and services that support the personal and academic success of students of African descent, Caribbean descent, and African-Canadians.
“There is a lot of opportunity for new programming and discussions on campus,” says Okello. “I’m excited to be in this new role and look forward to planning with and listening to Mount Allison students, faculty, and staff members over the academic year.”
Okello works out of the Wallace McCain Student Centre, with offices on the third floor and in the International Centre. His position is a result of ongoing consultation and collaboration between Student Affairs and the Mount Allison Students’ Union, with support from both the University and the Students' Union.
“I’m always happy to hear from students and learn more about their experiences and their needs. It’s important that the unique histories and cultures of peoples of African ancestry are recognized and celebrated on campus,” he says. “I’m looking forward to working and building on events and initiatives throughout the year such as African Heritage Month activities, as well as reaching out to the wider community beyond the University.”
Along with serving as a main student contact, Okello will assist with University educational opportunities and training relating to diversity and inclusion on campus.
Okello earned his BA in gender studies from Makerere University in Uganda where he grew up. He then earned his Masters of Arts in International Development Studies at Dalhousie University, where he says he began to get involved in student support services.
“I worked at the Writing Centre and with the Black Student Centre at Dal. These experiences gave me good exposure, from a working perspective, to the needs of students and what resources could or should be available on campus,” he says.
Okello will also serve as a resource to faculty and staff in helping to raise awareness around anti-racism education and the lived experiences of students of colour. Working closely with student groups, community partners, and the University’s Anti-Racism Education and Response Team, Okello’s role will also help to further Mount Allison’s efforts around equity, diversity, and inclusion across campus and within the community.
“It’s important for students to know they have support and resources throughout their degree,” he says. “I hope I can play a small role in making this experience better and bring a different perspective to the cultural conversation in the University community.”
Okello can be reached as follows: