· 3 min read
Soto’s career, law-based outreach leads to diversity leadership honor for alumni
The University of Nebraska–Lincoln recently honored six individuals and one student organization during its annual Nebraska Diversity, Equity and Inclusion awards.
Organized by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the honors recognize individuals and groups who actively advance diversity, equity and inclusion in transformative and sustainable ways on campus and in the community.
The University Communication and Marketing team reached out to the honorees to learn more about what drives them to help build a more inclusive community on campus and in the broader community. The series continues with Jose Soto, a 1984 graduate who earned the Diversity Leadership Alumni award.
Soto has been an advocate for the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion in Nebraska through is career in higher education and engagement with the university’s College of Law. Since 1992, Soto has served as vice president for access, equity, diversity at Southeast Community College.
In the community, Soto serves on the Nebraska Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission since its inception in 2017. He was appointed to serve another term on the commission by the Supreme Court in 2019.
What does receiving the Diversity Leadership Alumni Award mean to you?
Receiving recognition from individuals I admire and from an institution I respect is the highest compliment about, and affirmation of, the work I have done over my 40+ years in Lincoln. It means that what I’m doing matters, that someone is watching, and that they think my work merits recognition. Receiving this award is a professional and personal point of pride.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I’ve always wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives and the places they live, work, and study. I think I have been able to contribute to the betterment of our community and Southeast Community College. I am hopeful my ways of “thinking, being, and doing” will serve as an example for others to assume personal responsibility to effectuate positive change in their spheres of influence and authority.
What or who inspires you?
I gain inspiration from my family, friends, and colleagues. I continue to learn about who I am and who I want to be from my interactions with everyone I meet. I am inspired by folks who thrive and succeed against all odds. I am motivated by the many friends, family members, and colleagues that share my passion for equity, equality, and fairness.
What is your advice to others looking to make an impact?
The effort and challenges are continuous, there is “pain” related to making an impact, and it takes decades to make substantive and sustainable change. Diversity champions must stand up, speak out, and challenge others to do the same. In the end, those strong advocates will be someone’s hero, or someone’s nemesis.