D. Ellis Rates is the Associate Director of Intercultural Initiatives at Miami University’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion. A 2014 graduate who earned his B.A. in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, he returned to his alma mater in March 2022.
How did you reach your current position?
I started my professional career in 2015 after being denied graduate school admission several times. I was a middle school science teacher in the Cleveland Municipal School District. In 2017, I began working as an HR recruiter in North Canton. I excelled in that role thanks to my WGS degree and excellent people skills. In 2018, I took a chance and applied to Walsh University to pursue a master’s degree in Higher Education. I was accepted into the program and served as a Hall Director and Intern for Multicultural Affairs during my time there. After graduating in 2020, I landed a role as the Director of Campus Involvement and Assistant Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Hiram College. Finally, in 2022, I made the tough decision to leave Hiram and come back to Miami to serve in my current role.
How did Miami University set you up for success in your career?
Miami was integral in my development as a person and as a professional. If not for the many opportunities to experience difference on campus, I’d likely still be the close-minded, opinionated, and biased person I was when I arrived on campus and not the advocate for diversity I am today.
What is your best piece of career advice for current college students?
Interning is the best ramp to success you can have. Employers want to see that you not only know about the role and the work, but that you can do the work in some capacity. No one wants to train someone from scratch in today’s market. Having a baseline of knowledge and experience to draw from will put you ahead of other candidates in the pool.