Learning a Respect for Diversity
Ifeolu Claytor, SHHS ’12, is a junior at Miami University of Ohio, where he is pursuing a double major in political science and social justice studies. He intends to go to law school. His grandfather, J. Howard Battle, is a realtor who helped to integrate the Ludlow community of Shaker Heights and was the first minority member of the Cleveland Board of Realtors. His aunt, Ellen Battle, is a teacher at Fernway Elementary.
At Shaker, I had a lot of communities that supported me as a student. I was a group leader in SGORR (Student Group on Race Relations), I was a student government class representative, I did the morning announcements, I was a MAC (Minority Achievement) Scholar, and I was a member of GSA (Gay Straight Alliance). I was also a field commander with the marching band and played lacrosse.
I think GSA is really integral to Shaker. It’s extremely important to have a gay straight alliance because it allows people the open space to be who they are, especially if they don’t feel comfortable being “out” with the entire school population. It serves as a support group, but also an education group, so that people can feel comfortable stepping out and speaking up when they hear something that is incorrect, whether or not they identify as a member of the LGBT community.
SGORR was extremely valuable because it taught me to sit back and listen and really take in other people’s opinions before forming my own. That was something I brought with me to Miami, just waiting and listening sometimes before I jump into things.
“SGORR was extremely valuable because it taught me to sit back and listen and really take in other people’s opinions before forming my own.”
With MAC Scholars, it was a different form of diversity. A lot of people would think that high school-age African-American men are all the same, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of us played multiple sports, some didn’t play any sports. There are different levels of academic interests and club interests. It made me more sensitive to the idea that everybody is a person before they just fit into one box or group.
My social justice experience and my activities with different student groups at Shaker really pushed me to find that community at Miami. I found it in my political science major and in student government, where I serve as the secretary for diversity affairs. I loved my intro class on social justice so much that I made it my second major.
My Shaker experience was extremely influential in that decision, because it pushed me to find thinkers, people who want to discuss those issues, and not necessarily agree on them, but to discuss things in an educated way and respect others while doing so.