Getting Involved to Give Back

Helping fellow students is how Janiya Stroger gives back.

Stroger, a junior in animal science, learned quickly that getting involved in clubs and organizations on campus offered her opportunities and support.

“There have been times when I’ve wanted to give up and the people involved in those organizations wouldn’t let me give up,” Stroger says. “My involvement also provided opportunities I wouldn’t have learned about otherwise.”

Iowa State’s animal science department attracted Stroger to come to Ames from Calumet City, Illinois. She’s cared for several pets throughout her life and that inspired her to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Stroger propelled into leadership and mentoring positions. She serves as the secretary of the Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Club. She’s also a mentor with the Fostering Opportunity through Collaboration Unity and Scholarship (FOCUS), the first multicultural learning community in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Audrey Kennis, student services specialist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says Stroger has been a strong mentor within the FOCUS learning community. The group meets every week offering opportunities to learn from peers and get involved in the community.

“Janiya is a strong student, a strong leader and she has tremendous interpersonal skills,” Kennis says. “It’s students like Janiya who play a critical role in helping other students feel welcome and thrive.”

Stroger mentors Immanuel Taylor, a freshman in animal science. Taylor says having a mentor has helped him learn about opportunities and incorporate time management skills during his first year.

“Janiya is an excellent mentor,” Taylor says. “She makes it easier to see how things work. She’s also an animal science major, so she understands what I need to do to pursue my major.”

The Leaders Enhancing Agriculture, Diversity, Inclusion and Trust, Collective, or LEAD-IT, is another group Stroger is involved in. The group is housed in the college and works to build strong leaders and community partners with a focus on inclusion through academic, multicultural programs and social justice initiatives.

“We’re an extension of the dean’s office and we facilitate discussions and workshops on discrimination and racism, cultural competency and bias to name a few,” Stroger says. “Professors invite us to classes to discuss these issues that aren’t usually talked about.”

Becoming involved with LEAD-IT presentations was outside her comfort zone, says Stroger, but her mentors encouraged her to push herself. The LEAD-IT initiative offers a safe space where students, faculty and staff can discuss issues.

“I’ve learned that you have to step away from what you’re comfortable with in order to grow,” Stroger says. “This is a learning experience and it helps students become advocates for minorities in the college.