Vice President of Equity and Inclusion Spotlight: Rachel Roberson, PhD

DCTC and Inver Hills welcome new member of the executive leadership teams

In January 2022, Rachel Roberson, PhD, 32,  joined the president’s executive leadership teams at Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College as vice president of equity and inclusion. Rachel serves as President Michael Berndt’s primary advisor on strategic goals regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Her responsibilities include overseeing major DEI initiatives on both the DCTC and Inver Hills campuses.

“I am so happy to have Rachel with us,” President Berndt said. “She is honoring the work we’ve done and helping us reflect, so we can ensure our work going forward invites everyone into the conversation.”

Rachel brings a wealth of experience designing and delivering programs and services supporting first-generation and underrepresented students, most recently at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and earlier at the University of California, Berkeley—the latter institution is where she completed her Ph.D. in Education Policy and Organizations.

She earned her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at The University of Texas at Austin, and her B.A. in Political Science and Ethnic Studies (dual major) at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Higher education philosophy

“I believe that higher education has the power to not only change a person’s life, but can also radically transform historically disenfranchised people and communities.”
Rachel Roberson, PhD
Vice President of Equity and Inclusion
Inver Hills Community College
Dakota County Technical College

Rachel served as a graduate student and lead instructor at both UC Berkeley and UT Austin, teaching a great variety of courses on race, culture, language, social justice, data science, research design, sexuality, ethnicity, human rights, and more. She worked as a consultant, fellow, or assistant on 10 research projects at UC Berkeley alone. She founded the Critical University Studies Working Group at Berkeley and remains a member in good standing of the Golden Key Honors Society and the Order of the Golden Bear.

Rachel’s experience as a conference presenter and guest speaker is remarkable. From 2016 to 2021, she was invited to present or speak at nearly 30 events around the world, including San Juan, Puerto Rico, Granada, Spain, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, New York City, San Diego, Indianapolis, San Francisco, Portland, Toronto, Honolulu, and Washington, D.C. As a student at CSU in 2010, Rachel participated in a 4,000-mile Civil Rights Road Trip through the Deep South and later presented her findings at the university’s 2010 Diversity Symposium.

More about Rachel…


Originally from Oakland, California, Rachel graduated from Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado, Class of 2008. She belongs to a large and loving family.

“I am proud to come from multiple generations of hard-working, blue-collar people,” she related. “My immediate and extended family also has representatives from five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. While working multiple jobs, my mom also raised me, my three older brothers, and one younger sister.”

Rachel added that she has eight nieces and nephews as well as “too many cousins to count.”

“Holidays and family gatherings are loud, chaotic, and boisterous, and I would not change a thing!” she said. “I recently added to the chaos by rescuing a rambunctious puppy—85 pounds!—named Oscar.”

Rachel is an exceptionally accomplished world traveler. “I grew up playing basketball and spent years traveling around the U.S. for tournaments and invitational camps,” she said. “After college, my love for traveling expanded abroad. Thus far, I have explored more than 30 countries spanning five continents, and I try to check out a new place every year.”


Advice for first-time world travelers…

Rachel in Morocco

Go for it! Be sure to schedule time for wandering beyond the garden path. Try to meet locals however you can. Some of my best travel memories have been through volunteering or during home-stays—be it staying at a working dude ranch in the middle of Uruguay or cooking tajine with locals in a Moroccan Berber village or learning about meditative practice at a Buddhist temple in the mountains of Busan, South Korea.

Rachel’s world travels gallery

Rachel Roberson, PhD Q & A

Rachel Roberson, PhD

What are your core convictions regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs and policies?

I believe that this work is for EVERYONE! We cannot afford to put our heads in the sand and ignore the plight of others. Discomfort is where the work is most impactful! Allow yourself to be pushed and trust that those around you are here to lift you and engage in the difficult, necessary conversation.

What are the best ways staff, faculty, and administrators can work to increase access and opportunity for historically underrepresented members of our campus community?

First and foremost is showing up! Be willing to come to the table, actively listen to the experiences of those coming from historically underrepresented communities, then reflect and talk through where you are in the work and where you want to be.

What are the most challenging aspects of diversity education and advocacy?

Convincing folks that every area of campus plays a real and vital role in making our campus community equitable.

Three words that describe you as an equity and inclusion educator and advocate:

What are your foremost goals for future college-wide DEI initiatives?

Get collective buy-in for cultivating a community of belonging and justice.

Where do you hope to find yourself in 20 years?

Continuing the work.

What person has influenced your life the most and why?

My grandmother. She grew up during the great depression in an extremely rural community. She had a passion for learning and wanted nothing more than to go to school. Unfortunately, she had to drop out at 9 years old to begin working full-time as a live-in maid and nanny.

She spent the rest of her life reading every book she could, often following along with her children’s English syllabi in the city library. I was proud to continue that legacy of learning as the first member of our family to go to college. While she passed away at 93 years old, I carry her with me always.

One word that best describes your experience in higher education:


Rachel Roberson, PhD 12 Answers

  1. Favorite physical activity: Pick-up basketball
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Zanzibar
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: That’s tough! It’s between camel trekking and camping in the Sahara Desert, Morocco; hot air ballooning at sunrise in Cappadocia, Turkey; studying Buddhism at a temple in the mountains of South Korea; or wrangling wild horses at a dude ranch in Uruguay
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off the student loan debt for everyone I know
    2) Launch an endowed scholarship and/or grant for BIPOC and QTPOC students and community organizers
    3) Travel and write for as long as I can with whatever’s left
  5. Best book you’ve read lately: Heavy by Kiese Laymon
  6. Time period you would explore if you could time travel: As a senior in high school, I was asked the same question. At that time, I said: 1) 1920s – the Harlem Renaissance, 2) 1969 – Woodstock, and 3) 1975 – the Wonder Dream Concert with Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder. To be honest my answer has not changed.
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Make an impact.
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: African grass owl
  9. Dream occupation: This. BUT if I had not become an educator, then I would have opened a bookstore.
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Saidiya Hartman
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: How to speak a language other than English. I tried learning Portuguese last year, but I still have a long way to go!
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Indifference
Learn more about equity and inclusion at DCTC and Inver Hills by contacting:

Rachel Roberson, PhD
Vice President of Equity and Inclusion
Dakota County Technical College
Inver Hills Community College