OME Launches The CRWN
The Office of Minority Education’s (OME) newly created Women of Color initiative called The Creative Regal Women of kNowledge (The CRWN) held its opening event on Friday, February 24, 2023, with one of four spring soft-launch events. The kick-off event took place in the newly renovated Women’s Center, the Margaret Cheney Room, which was founded at MIT in 1884 as a space for women to gather on campus. The mission of The CRWN is to inspire undergraduate women of color to move confidently as visionaries, grounded in excellence, empathy, and support for one another. Women of Color (WOC) includes transgender women, cisgender women, and non-binary women. The program focuses on four primary pillars: personal development, community, academic excellence, and professional development.
During Friday’s event, the Associate Dean and Director of the OME, DiOnetta Jones Crayton, graciously welcomed over 40 women of color undergraduates (as well as a few women graduate students) and thanked everyone for participating in the event. She then introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, MIT Chancellor Melissa Nobles, who told the women that, “The CRWN is more than just a program. It’s an expression of what matters most to us, and that’s all of you. It has been designed with intention and care.” She added, “We want you to be the happy you. The healthy you. The successful you. The whole you.”
The event also included student speakers, special apple cider toasts to the success of the program, great food, fun games and prizes, and an opportunity to learn more about The CRWN’s upcoming programs. One of the highlights of the event was that the women were given the opportunity to make brief video vignettes answering the question, “What does The CRWN means to me?” Some of the comments they shared include:
- “The CRWN tells me that MIT really cares about women of color and wants to support us and help us to get along through these four years.” — Abigail (Abby) Dzordzorme ’24, biological engineering
- “The CRWN makes me feel empowered as though I actually have a place here. It makes me feel like my friends who look like me and I can really thrive at MIT, so I am excited.” — Victory Yinka-Banjo ’25, electrical engineering and computer science and biology
- “The CRWN means being authentically yourself, expressing yourself as much as you want, and not caring about societal norms.” — Sienna Williams ‘23, aeronautics and astronautics
- “The CRWN means a community of strong, amazing women of color.” — Rudiba Laiba ’25, biology
Since the launch party, The CRWN has hosted a Paint & Sip Night, a study break, and a Women of Color Panel Discussion on Energy. In May, they will host another study break before final exams.
In the fall, interested undergraduate WOC can apply to the program and be formally inducted through a special Taji Ceremony. Up to 50 WOC undergraduates will be accepted into the program. The CRWN is targeted for second-year students and above, and students may renew their “membership” each academic year. In addition to the member-only activities of The CRWN, large-scale community events will be open to the WOC undergraduate community as well. The women who attend the spring soft-launch events will receive special invitations to apply to the program this fall.
“The CRWN promises to be exciting, enriching, and fulfilling,” Jones Crayton says. “I think it represents the best of MIT and the greatest opportunity for us to increase our knowledge and awareness of one another. I’m excited about the CRWN, and I’m looking forward to what it has to offer.”
— OME Staff