Inspiring Leaders: Maliek Sterrett on Cultural Diversity and Student Success

Maliek Sterrett, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, St. Francis College New York (Photo Credit: AnnaMaria L. Insta @imprintedshadows @annashadows)

Maliek Sterrett is an inspirational leader whose leadership style is making a long lasting impact for young people in New York. As Director of Multicultural Student Affairs at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, Mr. Sterrett is committed to strengthening student success, by creating a diverse environment where students thrive academically, and find both support and a place of belonging. Maliek Sterrett is an educator, motivational speaker, Christian blogger, and CEO of Evolving Your Enterprise LLC. In the following interview with NY Elite Magazine, he discusses the great opportunities St. Francis College offers for current and incoming students.

NY Elite Exclusive Interview with Maliek Sterrett, Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, St. Francis College

NY Elite: Before becoming Director at the St. Francis’ Office of Multicultural Affairs, what was your prior professional experience?

Maliek Sterrett: Overall, I have been in the field of Higher Education for 8 years. I started off as a Residence Director for the University of Bridgeport and St. John University. This is where I gained my foundation to do the work I do now at St. Francis College.

NY Elite: What is your vision of diversity at St. Francis Brooklyn College?

Maliek Sterrett: I can speak to my Vision from the Multicultural Office perspective. I would love to see our students getting connected to their resources our college has to offer them as we work hard to educate, support and give them a well-rounded experience to be prepared for life after SFC. I want them to be able to learn how to navigate spaces with the skills that will equip them to thrive in diverse environments and continue to build inclusivity in the work they do no matter the career path they choose.

NY Elite: What are some of the opportunities that SFC offers to both current and new students?

Maliek Sterrett: We provide various opportunities of support from the academic and student affair divisions in career exploration/preparation, their wellness, cultural competence and experiential learning. We work hard to meet students where they are to move them into places they desired to be in life as well as where they may not have the foresight to see for themselves.

NY Elite: Could you highlight some of the accomplishments of the Multicultural Office at SFC?

Maliek Sterrett: Some highlights from The Office of Multicultural Affairs are the increase of cultural clubs and our leaders of color. We have grown in student staff, the ability to celebrate/acknowledge heritage months and really be a support for students who struggled with belonging. One of our greatest strengths are having leaders who have a desire to not just be apart but to help in the education, programming and building an inclusive environment for our peers.

NY Elite: What is going to be the focus at your office for this year? What do you hope to accomplish?

Maliek Sterrett: This year we we moved to a new campus our focus has been making sure students feel connected and expanding our each. After returning from a pandemic which for a time period has not allowed us to foster relationships the way we have done traditionally.

Director Maliek Sterrett, SFC, New York

NY Elite: What are some of the annual events sponsored by your office at SFC that help connect students and the NY community?

Maliek Sterrett: Some of our annual events are our Annual Culture Week where all our culture clubs have the opportunity present programs to educate the community, experience food from various cultures and building community. We also host a series of tabling events to recognize special holidays, heritage months coupled with programs to allow students to celebrate the rich culture represented here at SFC.

NY Elite: What is the student culture like at SFC and the campus values?

Maliek Sterrett: I believe our students are open, supportive and overall change agents. Many of them use their platforms to support others and work hard to create a family vibe within the college. Especially on our new campus they work hard to increase their visibility while being intentional in taking the lead in what they want to see in their college experience.

NY Elite: Working with people from different backgrounds or cultures can present unique opportunities for collaboration and creativity. Describe a time where a project or decision you made was enhanced by including diverse perspectives.

Maliek Sterrett: Within the last four years we have work to build The Office of Multicultural Affairs which did not exist before my onboard to the college. Every decision I made has been to enhance the student leadership experience within the multicultural office as well as the club leader experience. During this time with intentionality, we grew from four to eleven active cultural clubs on campus. We have enhanced our student staffed as mentioned earlier to produce the work that can make a major impact, so students feel connected through the cultural programs, mentorship and  the spaces created for our students to simply express themselves. This work took collaboration form other offices and staff across the college.

NY Elite: What are you most proud of in your personal and/or professional career?

Maliek Sterrett: I am most proud of the growth of this office. In coming to St. Francis College, I took time to foster relationships with our students, understanding the gaps and hearing what they wanted to receive out of their experience. I had to gather information to create, while being brave enough to navigate the ups and downs of building. This has strengthened me as a professional and continues to give me purpose. My passion grows everyday I have an opportunity to give back to our students. I am better because of them!

NY Elite: What is your advice to students who are considering SFC? Why should they choose St. Francis College Brooklyn?

Maliek Sterrett: My advice for students considering attending St. Francis College is to take advantage of every opportunity afforded to them. I would like to advise them to come in open to not just what interest them but to take initiative to create a well-rounded experience that will give them the foundational tools to take them into any career path and space they have blessed to walk into. I would encourage these perspective students to take the charge in creating  the college experience they want to see.


Insta: @sfcny @maliekantonio

Maliek Sterrett, Megi Rama, Musician Kastro Zizo (Artist of the Year), Alkida Koleci, Herta Hada, Albion Veliu, January 26, 2023 (Photo by Olsi Beci @olsibeci_videographer)

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