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AU Alumna Creates Groundbreaking Inclusive Emojis

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Katrina Parrott portrait

During the month of February, we join our nation in celebrating Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Blacks in American history.

The AU Black community, affectionately referred to as Ebony Eagles, is soaring to greater heights and effecting meaningful change, locally, nationally and globally. A shining example is Katrina Parrott, Kogod/BS ’80, who values the education and worldly exposure she experienced during her time at AU. 

Katrina is a Washington, DC native who now lives in League City, Texas. She majored in business administration at the Kogod School of Business with a concentration in procurement acquisition. "Thanks to AU, my professional career actually began before I graduated," she says. "I had already spent a year as a buyer through AU’s program with the federal government and gained significant experience."

When her daughter looked at her and said, “wouldn’t it be nice to have emojis that look like the person sending them?” Katrina took a vested interest in developing the world’s first inclusive emoji through her company, iDiversicons.

iDiversicons is a game-changing app that pioneers diversity and inclusion, offering the first iPhone- and iPad-compatible keyboard with truly diverse emojis. The company continues to innovate, recently adding animated GIFs on their iOS Version 11.0 keyboard and looking forward to adding the same to the Android mobile platform.

The company is responsible for the “Five Skin Tone Standard,” which allows users to select from skin tone modifiers for people emojis. That innovative concept has been adopted and implemented by Unicode, Apple, Google, and others. In fact, Unicode has approved over 500 of iDiversicons’ emojis. Unicode President Mark Davis praised iDiversicons’ innovative work, saying “Without you, we certainly wouldn’t have come up with as good a solution!”

Since its inception, iDiversicons has continued to expand the diversity in its palette of emoji. The company’s more than 900 emojis include couples, families, and gestures, as well as gender variations and gender-neutral and biracial representations. iDiversicons is proud that no matter where users are from, “chances are you’ll see faces that look like you.”

This month we celebrate the ongoing achievements and influence of African Americans on our society. As we press forward with AU’s Strategic Plan and our theme of “Changemakers for a Changing World”, it’s fitting to highlight Katrina among countless AU changemakers, each creating meaningful impact in our everchanging world.

iDiversicons continues to touch lives by taking a step back to look through an all-inclusive lens and ensure everyone’s identity is captured. "Our life’s mission is to help as many different people as possible truly express themselves, creating a sense of inclusiveness for all," says Katrina.