By Diego Berrocal ’22
UNCW Office of University Relations
Vivian Locklear’s appreciation for diversity is rooted in her childhood, when she sat on her front porch speaking about life with her relatives. As a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, passing down lessons from loved ones is a tradition, and cherishing inclusivity as a way of life found its home in her professional life, as well.
“Being a part of the tribe provides a different outlook on life as I continue to grow,” said Locklear. “I am Native American. I am proud of where I come from. I am proud of who I am. It gives me a sense of purpose and belonging that I know others do not have the opportunity to experience. My goal is to take my knowledge and apply it to my current position.”
Becoming UNCW’s first development officer for Diversity Initiatives in August 2021 was a smooth transition from her role as director of alumni engagement at UNC Pembroke. Locklear was responsible for promoting her alma mater’s alumni programs before she joined the Seahawk community.
“Since August, I have been engulfed in learning about all things UNC Wilmington,” said Locklear. “It has been amazing to hear about all the opportunities this institution has to offer faculty, staff, students and donors alike. This position was created to increase awareness and support of diversity initiatives across campus. As an underrepresented individual myself, the opportunity to utilize my personal and professional experiences to help advance a campus’ climate and culture is more than I could ask for.”
As a UNCP student, Locklear used her tribal knowledge to inform her art. She worked with fellow undergraduate classmates on a documentary, Voices of the Lumbee, focusing on how industrial and agricultural deprivation affected the lives of Lumbee Elders in Robeson County. She told the story of her people – of their persistence through economic and political struggles – via first-hand accounts. The film required the efforts of more than 100 people, took three years to produce and premiered at the second annual Lumbee River Independent Film Festival.
“That was my first experience working on a documentary and I was able to do this during my senior year of undergrad,” said Locklear. “It was truly a unique experience and fueled my desire to help my community and shed light on our way of life. During the process, we traveled to Baltimore to meet with other tribal members that moved for employment opportunities. We learned how they adapted to lifestyle change and created a community much like the one in Pembroke far away from home.”
Today, Locklear continues to create change by working to advance Like No Other: The Campaign for UNCW, a $100 million fundraising initiative which aids UNCW’s students, faculty, programs and facilities. Since the start of the campaign in 2015, UNCW has received more than $2 million in gifts and commitments in support of diversity initiatives.
“I have learned to ask questions even if they seem silly,” said Locklear. “The great thing about my background is that I have served underrepresented students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors. I can use that experience to engage in conversations about UNCW’s past and invite stakeholders to help us create a more diverse and inclusive future.”