Divanni Polanco ’24, a double major in political science and economics, has distinguished herself as a dedicated leader with passion for fostering diversity and inclusion on campus.

At the forefront of campus leadership, Divanni serves as the executive president of the Student Government Association (SGA), is the former director of inclusive initiatives for the SGA, and holds the role of treasurer at Huellas, a vibrant Latino club on campus. In addition, she’s the former Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator of IT. 

As the director of inclusive initiatives for SGA, Divanni worked on College initiatives such as the Hygiene Initiative, which provides free feminine hygiene products in several bathrooms on campus, and Swipe It Forward. In her role as the IT DEI coordinator, Divanni focused on creating an inclusive work environment and promoting diverse and inclusive hiring.

"DEI should be the norm. Representation and inclusion affect how students' function. It is essential for students to feel supported, especially at our predominantly white institution, where it can be, at times, challenging,” Divanni said. “Having a place that supports you in all aspects of your life, culturally, academically, and professionally, ensures that we as students thrive and reach maximum potential."

Since her arrival on campus as an international student from Cabarete, the Dominican Republic, Divanni has been deeply engaged in cultivating connections within the Emmanuel and College of Fenway communities. Reflecting on her journey, Divanni emphasized the pivotal role Huellas has played in providing a supportive network and facilitating her transition to college life. 

“For international students, it can be challenging to find a group to fit in with at first, and Huellas has created a family for me and helped me to transition to this new environment more easily,” she said. “Alums of Huellas often come back to campus, and they are always willing to help us with anything.”

“The entire Emmanuel staff, faculty, and student body are all so incredibly welcoming and supportive, and they love the fun fact of me being international. Emmanuel has become the home I long for when I return to Cabarete,” she said.

As a political science major, Divanni is interested in law. It runs in the family — her sister is a lawyer. She’s currently interning at the Law Offices of Giselle M. Rodriguez, PLLC, a firm that specializes in immigration. She’s one of more than 20 Emmanuel students who have interned there. In her role, Divanni goes beyond performing administrative tasks. She assists clients as they prepare for citizenship test and navigate complex legal procedures and paperwork.

“The internship is very interesting, and I can relate in many ways to the clients’ experience because as an international student, I had to apply for a student visa and fill out a lot of documents,” she said. 

Divanni also served as a research assistant for the College’s Institute for Eastern Mediterranean Studies for Associate Professor of Political Science Petros Vamvakas, conducting research on climate change in the Eastern Mediterranean, underscoring her eagerness to explore diverse academic avenues.

“Professor Vamvakas has encouraged me to try different things and has always given me opportunities to branch out and challenge myself,” she said.

She has her brother, Christopher, to thank for her Emmanuel experience. A surgical resident, he told Divanni about the College.

“My brother works close to the area, and he told me about the school. I looked it up online and saw it was a small school with an immense sense of community. I came from a high school with a graduating class of 12 students, and this was the exact environment I wanted for college,” she said “Big schools and large classrooms did not appeal to me. Emmanuel was also in the city's heart and offered many experiences that attracted me as a girl from a small beach town.”

Emmanuel thanks Divanni’s brother for his recommendation — Divanni's presence has enriched the College community!