BOOM! 2023

Mount Holyoke’s seventh annual Building On Our Momentum (BOOM!): Community Day of Learning will take place on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. In this letter to the community, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion Kijua Sanders-McMurtry shares highlights about this year’s events.

Dear members of the campus community, 

Mount Holyoke’s seventh annual Building On Our Momentum (BOOM!): Community Day of Learning will take place on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Student activists inspired the creation of this vital learning conference and it is their vision that continues to fuel the work we do around diversity, equity and inclusion at Mount Holyoke today. 

As this year’s keynote speaker, Kai Cheng Thom, reminds us in her book, “I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World” –– “we must invest deeply and fervently in the dignity of human life.” Each year at BOOM!, we engage in life-affirming educational sessions that support the multiplicity of our human experiences and our capacity to grow and learn even during the most difficult moments of our lives. 

Our speakers for this year’s BOOM! are activists, artists, students and scholars from around the world. For the first time since 2019, many of our events will be in person, but we will host a number of virtual events as well. There are also many pre-recorded sessions that you can view as you have the time; we know that these can be incredibly powerful opportunities for self-development. 

I invite you to join us for plenary sessions including "Belonging: The Science of Creating Connection with Psychologist Geoff Cohen in dialogue with Interim President Beverly Daniel Tatum,” the inaugural lecture of the newly formed Department of Critical Race and Political Economy featuring Gaye Theresa Johnson, and “REMEMBERING REVOLUTIONARY LOVE: Transformative Justice At the End of the World” with Kai Cheng Thom. Other highlights include a very special alum panel entitled “Go Where the Love Is: Shaping Your TGNC Life After MHC,” featuring Addison Beaux ‘99, Zohar Berman ‘20, Malakai Chuckas ‘20, Chelvanaya Gabriel ‘97 and Misha Ali Orr ‘17 as well as “Reflections on building a practice of artmaking for connection and liberation” with Candy Alexandra ‘14. 

We are also delighted to feature Ableism 101, an in-person session led by our soon-to-be community member Dr. Madeline L. Peters. I am excited to announce that Madeline will join our campus community as the new Director of Accessible Education and 504 Coordinator in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Monday, April 24, 2023. She is a DEI practitioner with decades of experience and deep expertise addressing ableism and working toward social justice in the Valley. Her co-authored book chapter on ableism in “Teaching for Social Justice” has been, and continues to be, taught in higher education programs across the nation. We look forward to her BOOM! session and to welcoming her into our community. I am confident she will lead us to think more deeply about our work to address ableism and help us build toward our collective anti-racist future.

I am grateful to the Disability Cluster Search Committee who worked to identify Madeline Peters as the top candidate in the search and for their continued efforts to bring two additional colleagues focused on disability awareness and accommodations to the College. For questions and feedback, please contact co-chairs Emily Dean and Lauren Gaia. 

The team in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion welcomes your feedback on this year’s sessions and topics via our forthcoming BOOM! survey. This array of sessions for alums, students, faculty and staff allows us to cultivate a community rooted in solidarity and grow toward our collective liberation, and for this I remain grateful to, and for, each of you. 

With deep appreciation,