As many postbacs prepare their professional school applications, the theme of diversity is at the forefront of countless essay prompts. In a rapidly evolving world, equity, diversity, and inclusion (or EDI) are important concepts that bolster professional and personal development. Everyone has a role within EDI, and while diversity can be a broad topic to tackle, applicants can unlock a diversity statement that works for them.

This summer, Dr. Triesta Fowler, NICHD Director of Communications and Outreach, led a virtual seminar where she discussed:

  • Different components of diversity,
  • The importance of including your trajectory in diversity statements, and
  • Common mistakes applicants should avoid when writing a diversity statement.

When you first hear the word diversity, you might think of race, gender, and ethnicity. But it’s important to realize that diversity can also be found in areas such as  socioeconomic status, and life experiences. . Taking the time to figure out which aspects of diversity apply to your personal experience, , and professional journey can help you craft a diversity statement that is unique and authentic to you.

Dr. Fowler emphasized that the admissions committee looks for your trajectory in a diversity statement. Your trajectory begins with your background and identity, moves into how that background influences your commitment to diversity, and then shows how you will continue with a commitment to diversity in professional school and beyond. It is important to tap into the story that makes you unique, authentic, and adequately expresses your future goals. It is imperative to research the prospective institution’s mission statement to find ways you can relate your goals to their mission and to determine if the school is a good fit for you.

According to Dr. Fowler, common mistakes applicants make in a diversity statement include not being specific, not telling the truth, and repeating what is in their personal statement. Simply stating that you prioritize diversity is not sufficient. Using concrete examples to highlight how you have approached diversity in the past and, most importantly, reflecting on those actions is the best way to shape your diversity statement.

While diversity statements can seem like a daunting task to overcome, using Dr. Fowler’s advice can help you identify the story that makes you unique and apply it to your professional and personal goals. On behalf of the NICHD postbacs, we thank Dr. Fowler for taking the time to clarify what a diversity statement is and encouraging us to share and reflect on our stories.