Azuka’s story exemplifies the unique advantages of the Individualized Master of Arts program. Her IMA program design drew on aspects of political science, sociology, and education. Azuka primarily utilized the theoretical model of optimal psychology– developed by a leading authority in the field, Dr. Linda James Myers, who served as her mentor and one of her course instructors. Azuka explored the “connectedness of everything,” looking at more inclusive approaches of engaging people across racial and social class divisions. In the context of critical race theory, she investigated the concept of the other, and learned how social constructions of identities obscure decision-making based on power and privilege. Azuka now holds the position of Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, & Partnerships at COSI (Center for Science and Industry, Columbus, OH).
Azuka embedded her IMA capstone in a professional project for COSI, engaging in a year-long planning process for a traveling exhibit called, “Race: Are We Really So Different?” Azuka led an effort to engage the community in a way that had never been done before. COSI staff collaborated with local leaders and organizations, businesses, universities, public and private school systems, and city and county governments. Every detail about how this exhibit would be presented—from marketing to programming to lectures—was a collaborative effort between COSI and the community. As Azuka puts it, “This changed the face of COSI. The central Ohio community saw our science center in a way they’d never seen us before. We also developed deep relationships with the corporate community because they saw COSI differently. The public response to this exhibit was extraordinary because everyone was invested in it.”
The success of this massive outreach inspired COSI to ensure that this would be their operating model in the future. “My role,” Azuka explains, “is to lead the science center in creating a diverse internal environment for our team and our embedded partners, which allows us to reach out and be inclusive of various communities.”
From the COSI webpage:
As Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Partnerships Ms. MuMin now serves as an advisor, resource, and consultant in spearheading the development, implementation and reporting of institution‐wide diversity and inclusion strategies linked to optimal performance and business success. Through her work in outreach and engagement Ms. MuMin has facilitated meaningful partnerships with over 100 organizations and schools, based on her innovative community
relationship building concept of Invite (encouraging attendance), Welcome (creating an inclusive environment), and Engage (drawing favorable attention and interest from our diverse audiences). Ms. MuMin was also instrumental in forming and leading COSI’s first public engagement process for a temporary exhibit. The successful process was initiated for the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibition and was comprised of a steering committee of diverse community leaders from various Columbus organizations.
Prior to joining COSI in 2007, Ms. MuMin had over 10 years of professional leadership experience with nonprofit and government social service agencies focused on empowering low income families through education, employment, and mentoring. Additionally, she co‐founded a nonprofit agency transitioning women from public assistance to employment. Ms. MuMin received her Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University with dual majors in Social Policy and African American & African Studies. She also has a Master of Arts degree in Cultural Community Development from Antioch University. Ms. MuMin is the recipient of diversity fellowships from both the Association of Science and Technology Centers and the American Association of Museums.