“I’d like to take the time to spotlight a blog by a friend who is very special and extremely talented. The blog is called Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian and the author is Relando Thompkins-Jones.
I met Relando when he was a student at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, where he worked with our team facilitating intergroup dialogue with high school youth in Ann Arbor. Since then, he has never ceased to amaze me with his grace, thoughtfulness, and skills.
He is an outstanding dialogue facilitator and diversity educator. When I became Associate Dean of the School of Social Work, I hired Relando to teach the course I created on Intergroup Dialogue because of the trust I had that he would deliver the best course possible for our students. And, he delivered many times over! Click on the link below to sample some of his most popular blogs of 2016. I encourage you to follow and return often to learn more about his journey.”
—-Mike Spencer Ph.D, MSW, Fedele F. Fauri Collegiate Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan and current Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work.
“Professor Thompkins played an instrumental role in my recognition of white privilege and racism in the U.S. I will NEVER forget the lectures and activities in his diversity and cultural competency course.
I firmly believe that many of society’s most complex problems could be better addressed if more people other than Social Work and Sociology students took this course. I am forever grateful for his time, wisdom, patience, and vulnerability.”
—-Andrea Berthet BSW, Class of 2016
“He is outstanding. He makes it so easy for all students who come from diverse backgrounds to be able to share their feelings on tough subjects.”
—-Katrina Tinsley-Woodruff, BSW, Class of 2016
“Although Professor Relando Thompkins-Jones isn’t someone I’ve known for very long, he has still been extremely influential for me as an individual and as an aspiring Social Worker.
Again, he is someone who embodies the whole heart of Social Work Practice, and his passion for others shines through in his teaching. I couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable, passionate, and caring professor to close out my time here at Oakland University.
It’s difficult to graduate without being fearful of the future; all I’ve ever known is how to be a student. When I came to him after class to discuss some of these fears, he sat down with me for an hour and a half listening to everything I had to say and giving me pieces of advice to carry with me.”
—-Lauren Simpson, BSW Class of 2016
“Relando is on a mission to help build more equitable and inclusive communities through his blog, written work, film, video, and conversation. His goal to live a life that benefits others is evident in this blog, which is a rich and thoughtful resource on social justice.”
“Relando’s blog, Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian is a lovely blog full of inspirational and thoughtful posts about social work, society, culture, working for social justice and peace. Relando and I share a passion for improving the experience of students of color in higher education. Always thoughtful and thought-provoking, please add N.A.H. to your blog roll!”
“Relando! I feel like you are calling me out! . . . Thank you . . . for reminding me that, no different than my clients, that I, too, get comfortable with my stances – political, social, physical, relational and otherwise. And, of course, that self-reflection that I am always asking and nudging others to engage in is also available to me. It’s telling, isn’t it, . . . the places we find ourselves cluelessly avoiding?
Relando, I don’t stop in here nearly often enough to tell you how much I appreciate your nudges and call outs to create the world we are meant to live in. Thank you.
I have nominated you for The Beautiful Blog Award as a token of my appreciation and as a way to introduce my readers and others to your work. It is necessary. It is valued. And, it is the only way that we move our world forward.
Blessings to you on your journey.”
“Your writings also have a feel of walking with people rather than one who pushes and challenges or pulls and encourages. It’s hard to describe but its one that leads people without them feeling guided, pushed or lead. It’s quite remarkable actually.”
Lumas J. Helaire, Ph.D
Assistant Director & GEAR UP Director
University of Michigan, Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives
“Your thoughts and reflection are true to form, and tell your story quite well. Having the opportunity to read and embrace your words over the last few months, i see that your skills, insight, and aspirations are in tact. Your sense of self and self awareness is growing day by day, post by post, challenge by challenge… You are for the right thing and a welcomed asset to the field of helping others change for the better, I hear you!”
“My second treasure is a blog by social worker and “aspiring humanitarian,” Relando Thompkins, and you may visit with him at www.relandothompkins.com.
Relando’s web site is pure inspiration and his writing extremely thoughtful and important. As a social worker, I am particularly thrilled to see his work and feel he is a national voice for our profession. Once you visit and read his posts, I am sure you will agree his voice is one you want to hear for a long time.”
“Relando is a very unique and special person. He is bright, caring, thoughtful, and hard-working. A critical thinker, Relando has a nuanced understanding of social justice issues and challenges. He is also extremely dedicated and takes initiative. Relando always makes himself available for anything that is needed and goes beyond expectations of what is asked of him.
What is more, Relando is compassionate, he believes strongly in social justice and inclusion, and he is a natural leader in the way he conducts himself, serves others, and lives his life. In short, with Relando you can expect an intelligent, thoughtful, committed individual who will continue to enrich any community of which he is a member.”
“Relando is inspirational in many ways. i have appreciated every conversation he and i have had, and i consider him to be one of my most admired colleagues. Our relationship has become one of mutual respect, and one i deeply cherish.”
University of Michigan School of Social Work
Intercultural Group Program Co-Coordinator
“As a student, his curiosity and hunger for knowledge set him apart from his peers. His dedication to the social work program was evidenced in the high quality of his work as well as in his passionate pursuit of social change both in the classroom and within the community”
“Relando was placed at Pontiac Middle School and was responsible for meeting with students to attend to their social and emotional needs through counseling, advocacy, and involvement of community resources. In this capacity, Relando demonstrated empathy, eagerness and dedication.
These qualities were observed directly by his field supervisor and relayed directly to me. Further, Relando was able to understand where social work values and ethics were at odds with the Middle School environment, and grapple with the tenuous balance social workers must maintain when they are employed in organizations that do not share the same perspective on the human condition.”
“His passion, intellect, and endurance assure his success as a student, and I have no doubt he will make significant contributions to the field of social work.”
“Our program is highly interactive and very dependent on our ability to work together along with engaging participants in the process. The work is very challenging on a personal level, as it is absolutely necessary to develop self-awareness, other awareness, sensitivity and conflict management skills.
The conflicts can often be subtle and passive-aggressive, so attentiveness and ability to develop a safe, trusting environment for communication is imperative. Relando has excelled in all of the aforementioned areas.”
“Relando has made a strong commitment to the helping process and developing his skills in doing so. He is patient, observant, attentive and articulate in taking in information, processing, integrating and sharing. Relando works well with colleagues and clients; I emphasize “working with” rather than dictating, condescending or withdrawing in performance of work duties.
Relando is thoughtful, engages in deep self-reflection and evaluation as evidenced by his ongoing and consistent personal growth and professional development. Relando has a skill set that will allow him to effectively adapt to any social work setting and he has made the kind of commitment that truly comes from his heart; which is necessary to persevere in face of the many challenges one faces in human service.”
Mikel S. Brown – MSW
Project Coordinator- Social Change Agents (U of Mich)
Facilitator-Better Choices Domestic Violence Program
“Relando has a very vibrant personality and is very approachable. He works well with students regardless of nationality, religion, or cultural differences. He has demonstrated an ability to relate to all people, on all levels, who come from different backgrounds other than his own.”
“Relando not only has a great heart, but also shows up to fulfill all of his obligations. In sum, I give Relando Thompkins my highest recommendation.”
“When Relando makes a commitment, he keeps it. He is a man of his word. Relando, is a superior student and exemplary individual who has earned recognition for his academic achievements and commitment to others. His confidence and flexibility make him an outstanding leader and student who is destined for significant accomplishments. “
“Mr. Thompkins is a role model for all, through his community service, school involvement and passion for cultural development. He is someone who not only talks about bringing diverse groups together, but actually works toward that goal. He is someone who brings others along with him on his journey of learning and betterment, enabling him to pass on the knowledge and get others thinking about diversity. He is someone that rather than imposing his own view on someone else, instead asks him/her questions in order to get them thinking about themselves and their beliefs.”
Former Resident Assistant
Oakland University Housing
“Mr. Thompkins’s personality coupled with his academic pursuits and work experiences have yielded an individual who maintains a professional demeanor, while also being very personable and approachable.”
“In my role as the Assistant Director of the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, Relando served as one of my peer mentors. We also met montly to discuss his academic goals and future aspirations. It was at that time where I noticed Relando as a true humanitarian with great empathy for others. He has shown himself continuously as one of great humility.”
“Showing his selflessness, Relando has presented at the annual Our World Today conference at Oakland University, giving of his time to assist in educating others with the knowledge he gained through his classroom, job, and research experience. Relando always encourages others to embrace difference, just as he does each day in interacting with students from various walks of life.”
“Relando Thompkins was a passionate, dedicated student who offered a wise and thoughtful perspective to peers. While he offered much to others, he also carefully and respectfully listened to others and learned from them as well. He has a wonderful capacity to engage with others. He would make a strong contribution to an agency and their clients.”
“I hired Relando as a fitness assistant when he was just a freshman in college. What I remembered the most about Relando was his big smile, positive attitude and his willingness to learn. During every shift that he worked, I always found Relando interacting with our members.”
Whether it was asking them how their day was going, helping them with exercise choices, or assisting them with their lifts; Relando was always there at their service, willing to help. Not one day would pass without receiving accolades from our members regarding Relando’s customer service and work ethics.”
“Relando is a hardworking and determined individual who shows great integrity. He has excellent leadership and communication skills, takes initiative and has passion in working with people.He will be a great asset to any company that gives him the opportunity!”
Coordinator, Fitness Programs & Services