HETMA Opens PRISM Scholarship

PRISM Scholarship HETMAAt InfoComm 21, the Higher Education Technology Manager’s Alliance (HETMA) joined with AVIXA to announce the PRISM Scholarship. According to HETMA, “The Prism Scholarship was founded by HETMA in partnership with AVIXA to encourage women, LGBTQIA+, Black, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, disabled persons, and anyone who identifies as being underrepresented in the AV industry, to become active leaders and role models within higher education technology.”

If you are unaware, the higher education community of “technology managers” is a fairly close group that is always in communication with one another. Over the years, a number of groups have gotten together to press for changes or advocate for education customers, but HETMA has had the most success in this by far. While there is a lot to see from HETMA in the future, this is likely to be its most significant accomplishment, and I am very proud to be a part of this organization.

Why is this such a big deal? Let’s take a look at what the scholarship recipient will get. According to HETMA, the winner will be awarded a “one-year Elite Membership to AVIXA, inclusive of the entire online catalog of education, access to a virtual Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) prep course and course materials, the coverage of exam fees for the CTS exam, mentorship by a HETMA member, plus a trip to a future InfoComm show.”

Lots of people and organizations talk about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) but struggle to actually do anything concrete to make changes. HETMA is not such a group. I have previously written about how, early on, several members of the steering committee were in a Zoom meeting and realized a sad fact: The room was full of middle-aged white men. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Unlike most other organizations, HETMA decided to do something about it. The organization decided to have elections for director roles and actively encouraged and recruited a diverse slate of candidates. It also specifically set up a DEI committee and elected a chair to that committee. The PRISM Scholarship takes this commitment to an entirely new level.

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I understand that many of the people who read this blog are in manufacturing, sales and design and are not necessarily in higher education. So, if you are asking how this pertains to you, let me answer. I hope you see value in the PRISM Scholarship and use it as a call to action. One thing you can do is recognize and mimic the concrete action that has been taken. Can your organization do something similar? Can you be inspired by what a group of volunteers has done? I am no longer on the board at HETMA, but I imagine that it would happily take any support from others in the AV industry. Perhaps you can offer training by your company as an added part of the scholarship? Or maybe you can offer tours of your facilities or offer meetings with people at various levels in your organization.

Second, you can help spread the word about this scholarship. As previously mentioned, the higher ed AV community is tight, but there are some colleagues out there who may not know about HETMA — but you likely know of them. Share this information with them, encourage them to apply and give them the support they may need. The link to apply is here. If every integrator, programmer, designer and manufacturer that reads this blog sends it to at least five people they know who are eligible to apply, the word will be out that AV is an open and accepting industry. Often, it seems like we see bias, privilege and racism in our institutions and want to do something about it but cannot figure out what we can do. HETMA has forged a path — take it!