Diversity, inclusion, and difficult conversations

Tyra Riedemonn ’20

Many Gettysburgians remember where they were when they first learned of their acceptance to Gettysburg College. Maybe it was standing at a mailbox: the bigger the envelope, the better the news. Maybe it was in a college counselor’s office, or maybe, if you were Tyra Riedemonn ’20, it was while talking to Al Roker on a live broadcast of NBC’s Today Show.

Riedemonn, a native of Washington Heights in Manhattan, attended the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem (TYWLS) and became involved in the CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) during high school. CBI places full-time college guidance experts in high-need public schools in New York City to empower young women and men to realize their higher education and career potential.

With the assistance of her CBI college counselor, Tyra applied to 23 schools, with Gettysburg College being her number one choice. “Another student from my high school, Nene Sy ’18, whom I always looked up to, attended Gettysburg,” said Riedemonn. “When admissions reps started coming to TYWLS, Darryl Jones arrived from Gettysburg. We had the longest conversation. I knew if they sent someone as great as Darryl, there must have been something so awesome about the College.” Gettysburg College became Tyra’s top choice without her ever stepping foot on campus.

Riedemonn learned of her acceptance on the Today Show as Al Roker made his traditional rounds in Rockefeller Center. A group of CBI students attended that morning to bring awareness to the program, with Riedemonn designated as the speaker of the group. After describing CBI to Roker, Riedemonn’s college counselor surprised her with her long-awaited Gettysburg College acceptance.

Gettysburg’s partnership with CBI remains strong. “The CollegeBound Initiative greatly expanded our access to high performing students in New York City,” said Senior Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator for Multicultural Admission Darryl Jones. “Gettysburg College provides opportunities to transform the lives of CBI students through our rich and varied academic and co-curricular offerings, and just as important, students from CBI have helped to change the conversation from diversity to having real inclusion by becoming leaders in cultural clubs, committees, as tour guides, as interns, and all other aspects of the College.”

Now a junior, Riedemonn has done just that. From serving as senate rep for the Asian Student Alliance to a member of Alpha Phi Omega, she has her hands in various clubs and organizations throughout campus.

Tyra Riedemonn with friend

Among her many roles, Riedemonn serves as vice president of the College Panhellenic Association as a Tri Sigma. “My goal is to increase diversity and acceptance in Greek life,” said Riedemonn. “It was never on my radar to join Greek life, but then I realized that Greek members at Gettysburg do so much more.” Riedemonn leads a committee called GLEIC—Greek Life Equity and Inclusion Committee—which hosts events that are open to all of Campus, Greeks and non-Greeks alike.

All the while, Riedemonn works in the admissions office as a tour guide, student information presenter, and co-coordinator of multicultural visits under Jones, who made such a lasting impact early on. “I love talking to people and getting to know the prospective students,” said Riedemonn. “As a first generation college student, I didn’t know what to expect when starting at Gettysburg, so I enjoy sharing all of the opportunities they have before them.”

Coming full circle, Riedemonn also serves as an alumni leader for a three-day summer program CBI holds on Gettysburg’s campus that walks high school students through topics such as essay writing, the first-year experience, and college life in general.

A double major in theatre arts and cinema and media studies, Riedemonn is still unsure of life after Gettysburg. “There is definitely a trip to the Center for Career Engagement in my near future,” Riedemonn said with a laugh. “When the time comes to leave Gettysburg, I want people to know not to be afraid to have difficult conversations, especially surrounding inclusion. It’s not about what you say, but how you say it.”

Watch Al Roker surprise Tyra.