Nathaniel Benjamin, deputy chief human capital officer for the U.S. Department of Education, holds two advanced degrees, but it was the six months he spent in Georgetown’s Executive Certificate in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) program that made the biggest impact on his professional life.
“I love the program,” Benjamin says. “The network that I’ve built has been extensive. The members of my cohort—many of us are still close friends to this day.”
The opportunity to network and make new friends is an oft-cited benefit of Georgetown’s certificate and professional master’s degree programs. But Benjamin’s experience went well beyond that and involved a kind of self-exploration he had never undertaken before.
He enrolled after being named human capital director for the Office of Management and Budget, which required him to supervise DEI programs. He expected Georgetown’s program to be all about academics—and it was—but was surprised that it also went deeper into questions of identity and belonging.
At Georgetown, Benjamin gained “an awareness of self, an awareness of others, appreciation for complex identities, and a unique perspective on being open to others’ differences, and to really embrace others’ differences.”
As a Black man in America, Benjamin never considered himself privileged. But, in learning about the experiences of Black and Hispanic women, he saw that maleness, in itself, comes with certain advantages.
“I never recognized my privilege,” Benjamin says. “And if I didn’t recognize that in almost 40 years, what other aspects have I not recognized?”
Through the program, Benjamin also learned that DEI is more than simply expanding job searches and sponsoring periodic diversity training.
“We don’t want diversity to be an exercise,” Benjamin says of his work with the Department of Education. “It has to be the underpinning of what we do.”