International Studies & Programs

Fostering connection in the workplace and beyond

An interview with Ebony Lucas, MSU WorkLife Office consultant

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Published: Wednesday, 22 Mar 2023 Author: Nicole Damron

At MSU, we believe that every Spartan can be a Global Spartan. Where has your Global Spartan journey taken you? 

Every day across campus, Global Spartans go to class, to activities and get to work. Michigan State offers more than 17,000 paid student positions, many of which are held by international students and employees. Ebony Lucas, MSU WorkLife Office consultant and coordinator of the International Employee Resource Group, is one of many dedicated to fostering community in MSU workplaces. 

Headshot Ebony Lucas
Ebony Lucas, MSU WorkLife Office consultant

Her work with the IER Group aims to establish a sense of community and advocates for diversity within the MSU workforce. As a facilitator, Lucas works to promote dialogues and offer resources for international employees. A former international employee herself, she understands just how important connection is and how valuable it can be on a global scale. This drives her efforts with the WorkLife Office and the International Employee Resource Group. 

—An interview with Ebony Lucas—

What does being “global” mean to you?

For me, being global is not about traveling. What makes someone global is their ability to connect. Being global is about being able to embrace the world—to see oneself outside of their current situation in order to relate to others.  

How has your work with Doctors without Borders influenced your worldview?

Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières-MSF)—an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organization of French origin best known for its projects in conflict zones and in countries affected by endemic diseases—influenced my understanding of connectedness. 

In June 2020, the organization became active in the U.S. to address the pandemic. As the wellness support officer providing supportive services to the “hardest hit” nursing homes in Michigan, I was influenced by the lack of accessibility to much-needed services. My experiences with Doctors without Borders taught me that many times the services are available, but folks cannot access them. As a direct result of the lack of available supportive services, folks must dig deeper to support each other. I assisted the staff with developing a true team mentality where everyone was a part of the team. There were designated touch-point persons to check in with folks, to see how they were doing, which created greater accessibility and foster connectedness. 

How has international engagement affected your day-to-day life?

International engagement greatly affects my day-to-day life. It is a part of the lens I use when viewing the world. My international engagement exposed me to the complexities of life. The more I traveled, the more I learned about these complexities. What I have found is that we are all dynamic individuals who are shaped by our environment and experiences. International engagement broadened my perspective on the cultural norms and nuances that define us as human beings. So, from my experience, the more you learn about cultural differences, the more you learn about our similarities. 

In what ways is your work at MSU global?

I coordinate the International Employee Resource Group here at Michigan State University, which is part of the Employee Resource Group—a free employee-led group open to all MSU employee types including faculty, academic and support staff—that fosters inclusivity and builds community for those with common lived experiences by providing group discussion and learning opportunities, programming and platforms for sharing resources.  

The International Employee Resource Group is a place for Spartans to connect and discuss everyday issues. It is a chance to build new relationships with friends and family, campus and community connections and social activities that help build community. Our group meets every 3rd Thursday of the month, unless otherwise noted.

How does your past work influence the work you do now with MSU?

My past work influences my ability to see how we are all connected. I like to say, "We are in this together. We may be in different boats, but it is the same storm." My experiences have led to me appreciating human existence and experiences across the world. 

More about the MSU WorkLife Office and International Employee Resource Group.

Where will your Global Spartan journey take you?