Gaynor seeks multicultural appreciation

Tim Paluch

Editor’s note: In recognition of Black History Month, this week the Daily is profiling five African Americans who are making a difference on campus, but work “behind the scenes” and out of the limelight. Today, we profile Creighton Gaynor, graduate student in education leadership and policy studies.When Creighton Gaynor was 16, he attended Camp Anytown, a weeklong leadership-development and human-relations camp in Kentucky which addressed diversity and multiculturalism.He said the camp was an important event in his life.”That was huge,” Gaynor said. “It gave me energy in terms of knowing there were other people out there who felt the same way I did and were willing to get together and talk about it, even though they are different from the other person across the table.”Camp Anytown helped ignite a fire under him which continues to burn brighter with time.Gaynor, graduate student in education leadership and policy studies and Buchanan Hall director, now finds himself actively involved in issues of multiculturalism and diversity on campus.He is a member of the Multicultural Task Force, an organization that funds events promoting multiculturalism.The task force encourages diversity and multiculturalism by setting criteria which must be followed in order to receive funding, Gaynor said. Only student organizations can request funding, and there must be “some collaboration between groups that normally wouldn’t get together,” he said.Gaynor said the task force sets a good example for ISU students.”We send a message with our criteria,” he said. “Our focus is more about bringing folks together.”While also serving as adviser to the Multicultural Action Group, Gaynor said he has worked three years with the Ames Human Relations Commission, an organization similar to the Multicultural Task Force.A current issue of importance to him is the future of Morrill Hall, which he said he plans to propose being made into a multicultural center.”The multicultural center idea has been around for a long time,” Gaynor said. “It’s been brought up and rehashed and researched and talked about again for some time, but it’s never gotten to the point of action.”It will take the work of students, he said, to make the idea a possibility.”We need to get the students involved in the planning and making it happen,” Gaynor said.A multicultural center on campus would be a positive addition to Iowa State, making it more inclusive and welcoming, he said.”It would be a symbol of how we’d like the community to really be,” Gaynor said. “We’d like it to be a building where everyone that comes in can feel comfortable, everyone that comes in feels like it’s their place.”Those views of inclusiveness earn Gaynor the praise of those who have worked with him.Rob Lipsey, residence life coordinator, said Gaynor brings a little extra to the table whenever the two work together.”He has great ideals,” he said. “In working with diversity initiatives, he is real inclusive, which adds a lot of flavor to the department. He doesn’t just think in terms of ethnic-minority groups, he’ll think about groups of sexual orientation, groups with disabilities and international students.”Cecilia Olivares, graduate student in education leadership and policy studies, said Gaynor is a natural leader.”Creighton brings ideas and visions, as well as a voice, to multicultural issues at Iowa State,” she said. “He’s dedicated and passionate, optimistic yet realistic, and he just has this presence about him. He’s a great leader.”Gaynor also has a “caring nature,” Lipsey said.”He is just a good guy to work with,” he said. “If he has an enemy in this world, I don’t know how he could because he gets along with everybody.”Gaynor said he got his positive attitude from his parents, who he said were “good, nice people.””One of the things that was important to them was to be helpful to other people,” he said. “Lessons like being polite, saying ‘Yes, ma’am,’ when appropriate and ‘No, sir,’ when appropriate.”Along with good manners, Gaynor also received the gift of musical talent from his relatives.”Everyone in my family was musical somehow,” he said.Gaynor said he has played an instrument since elementary school, and found his niche with the drums during his junior year of high school.He has been actively involved in music since he earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Iowa State in 1995. In the steel drum band, The Jumbies, Gaynor plays the conga drums and auxiliary percussion.Three motivating factors in Gaynor’s life are his music, the ability to help people and the opportunity to work in a university setting. But he said he doesn’t forget who he is.”I’m really proud to be black,” he said. “Whether it’s the culture, the important people who have done great things for the country or the world, whatever it is, I don’t know.”In addition to valuing his heritage, Gaynor said he is a strong believer in taking in other cultures.”It’s perfectly fine to be happy and proud with who you are,” he said. “But you also have to celebrate and be enriched by the other people and the differences they have.”