Dignifying difference and building belonging. This is the anthem of Rahn Franklin’s career. Franklin serves as the director of multicultural student development, and provides leadership for student diversity initiatives toward achievement of Northwestern’s Vision for Diversity.
“Diversity should have life in all aspects of campus,” Franklin said.
Franklin leads the Bridge Scholars program to develop student leaders from diverse backgrounds by providing support, guidance and advocacy. He also collaborates to develop curricular and co-curricular programs for students, faculty and staff that develop cultural intelligence for intercultural learning and living.
Diversity has been a major part of Franklin’s life from his childhood. He grew up going to school and church with people from all over the world. This was one of the ways that his faith and work collided. His faith pours into his relationships, making connections with NW students from all over the world.
Junior Neftali Ramirez, a public relations and Spanish translating and interpreting major, met Franklin her second year at NW. She believes their connection that year was a godsend. She is now a Bridge Scholar and fills leadership roles in the Intercultural department and La Mosaic.
“He is a much-needed light in our community.” Ramirez said. He has been an unwavering pillar of support for me and other students of color. Rahn makes us feel heard, empowered, loved, and capable,”
Before NW, Franklin was a resident director and graduate student at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. He was finishing up his bachelor’s degree in of professional school counseling when a position opened up. However, Franklin knew nothing of the position or NW. When he received a phone call from a friend telling him it was the perfect job, he decided to look into it.
“We first learned about Rahn from an alum and friend of his who was interested in the job herself,” Dr. Kevin McMahan, associate dean for intercultural development, said. “As I was describing what the role needed, she said, ‘Oh! I know the perfect person! Everybody loves Rahn!’”
The Intercultural department quickly realized just how right she was. Franklin became the Multicultural Student Counselor, then transitioned to his current role as director of multicultural student development.
Many students would identify Franklin as one of the main reasons they continue at NW.
“Franklin makes us feel heard, empowered, loved and capable,” Ramirez said. For students of color at a primarily Anglo institution, it is so important for us to develop a sense of belonging, Rahn does that.”
Regardless of where his path had taken him, Franklin feels the work he is doing would be quite the same.
“I’d be doing similar work without the title if I wasn’t in this position,” Franklin said. “I’d still try to find some way to ensure that inclusive excellence was a staple in any organization or role that I was filling.”
McMahn has been working alongside Franklin for the past decade, and his experience working with Franklin attests to his talents and abilities in diversity.
“’Following Christ in pursuing God’s redeeming work in the world’ is Rahn’s learning and living mantra, and he pursues it courageously and faithfully every day,” McMahn said. “It’s been a great privilege to work beside him for the past decade.”
With Franklin and the help of the Intercultural department, diversity continues to be advocated for on campus.