Meet Ethan Cunningham!

Video Transcript

Asia Flores 0:05 Hello, everyone, my name is Asia Flores and I'm a sophomore bioengineering major here at Miami University. And I'm here with my mentor Ethan Cunningham, who's a junior bioengineering major here at Miami. And today he's going to talk to us about his cohort's impressive Envision 2040 project and how it's helping him prepare for the future. So Ethan, To start off, can you tell me why this project is important?

Ethan Cunningham 0:29 Thanks, Asia, this project, super important, because if we're not future minded, if we have no goals, if we don't know where we're headed, then we have like, no structure of what we're doing now. And I think when we came up with this project, obviously, we're mid like, in the middle of pandemic, and so nobody could have seen this coming. And so we're thinking, Okay, what are the things that nobody can see coming in 2040, the next 20 years. And that's, that's basically what our goal is to try to predict the unpredictable, and see what we look like in 2040.

Asia Flores 1:03 Yeah, I totally agree. That's so interesting. So I mean, you guys have been working on this for going on a year now. So during that time, what are some of the greatest insights you gained? about this project?

Ethan Cunningham 1:15 Yeah, that's a great question. Me personally, I am looking at some of the like, demographics and stuff like how, like, what, what are people going to, what's the people population going to look like, in the US come 2040. Um, my biggest personally, my biggest insight is one, the white population percentage is going to go down. So we're going be looking at approaching I think 2050 is when we crossed the actual mark of like, white non Hispanic population to hit like 49.6%. And in the US, which is just sounds like a number right now. But when you think about it, moving into 20 years, we talk a lot about diversity today. But once we reach like, 2040, we see a lot more BIPOC, people in, you know, in offices, and important positions. And so like, we talked about reaching critical masses, and like, comfortability, and stuff like that, and like making decisions and respecting decisions, which I think is huge. And like, now we're kind of looking at, if you look around people my age, there's, you know, more women in school than men. You think about like, especially me when I go to class, like if, if the women in class are doing most of the team projects, which is sometimes the norm, like, come 20 years, they're going be doing all the work in the executive office, right. And so, which I think is really cool. Another, like standout point is, you know, people my age, I'll be 40 years old, and 2040. And so we'll be in kind of places of power or importance influence, stuff like that. And when you look at it, like, like me, personally, when I think of diversity and stuff, it doesn't seem that weird to me, personally, like the idea of like, other people of color, like having power. And like, a good example is like, for eight years of my life, Barack Obama was the president. And now for like, at least the next four years, Kamala Harris is going to be on the vice president. And so if you think about that, by the time I turn 24, and 2024, there'll be a person of color and either the presidency or the vice presidency office, which is kind of like, it doesn't seem like a lot, but I think that's kind of like huge, like, a cultural norm that might define our generation.

Asia Flores 3:41 Yeah, those are all really, really interesting points. So, you know, taking all of that into account, how has this project helped you prepare for the future?

Ethan Cunningham 3:52 That's a great question. So me personally, I, as a, as a white male, looking at toxic diversity can kind of be seen sometimes when I read books and stuff, it's like, oh, like the white man is kind of the, the evil person in it. And it's not so much of the evil person there's, you know, but like the the institute itself, like white supremacy, white power, white norm normativity, stuff like that. And so looking at it, how can I just like be an ally and how can I look to intentionally be more inclusive? Um read a great book called "Whistling Vivaldi", by Dr. Claude Steele, who his main research phenomenal research is on stereotype threat. And I know kind of like since we're little we've we've talked about stereotyping and how stereotyping is bad, which it is I totally agree. But the his research is on the effects of stereotype, stereotype threat. And this is where I think we can insert a lot of intentionality into like, if we understand that people under stereotype threat, they perceive these cues of like, Oh, I'm not really wanted here and you know, people on like my side the white male side of the equation are like, like, that's not true, like, you know, try to like rationalize, like, okay, so there's no like, people of color like in office like that doesn't mean you'd not wanted here. But people are picking up on cues. And in any small queue, like, the smaller, the more and the smaller the queue, the more intentional you can and have to be to remove that that threat and people will notice that like, way more than you think. And I think as like our generation grows up. There's surveys and stuff that like people, people want to be hired by companies who foster include inclusivity, diversity and who actually care about their people.

Asia Flores 5:43 Yeah, absolutely. And I think that discussion is becoming more and more part of the equation as we become more educated as individuals. And I think this stuff is really important to talk about, and I think it's great that you've been doing all this research about it and are going to be able to share that with people and I'm excited to hear more about it. So thank you so much for being here, Ethan and I can't wait to hear more.

Ethan Cunningham 6:05 Thank you for having me. Excited for you to see what we have.