When Nav Chima moved from California to Ohio, she was used to a certain type of environment.
Chima, a senior majoring in international studies and political science, grew up surrounded by others that knew and understood her religion and ethnicity. In many cases, they too, were Punjabi Sikh.
Sikhism is an Indian Religion that was founded in the Punjabi region. The religion functions on a basic belief that one must honor God by honoring others, as well as the earth.
When Chima and her family moved to Cleveland, she missed the community she had come to love so much. When it came time for her to choose a college, it was a major factor in her decision.
“There were so many diverse peoples [in California]” said Chima. “Having people who understood me and what I believe in was really important to me when deciding where to spend the next four years.”
Chima was drawn to Miami because of the beautiful campus and professor-student relationships the university fosters. When she got to campus, though, there was no formal organization for Sikh students to find one another.
So Chima started one — the Miami University Sikh Student Association (MUSSA).
“I realized there was not any sort of organization here at Miami,” Chima said. “So me and a couple friends started it, just to have space … representation, and to create community.”
On top of her work advocating for the Sikh student population at Miami, Chima is a fellow for Multifaith Engagement for Transformative Action. Prior to joining this organization, she worked closely with the Interfaith Center for two years. Both organizations operate on the principles of finding commonalities between different religions and belief systems.
“We can all bond over our differences,” Chima said. “We are truly all the same.”
While she has seen progress in the last three years surrounding Miami’s diversity, equity amd inclusion efforts, she knows there is still room for improvement.
“I know Miami has a lot of work to do, and that starts with listening to students who have things they are really passionate about,” said Chima. “I can’t speak for everything the university needs to improve on … however, I think inclusion of different people and voices are really important.”