Prospective students get a taste of multicultural U

Multicultural student groups welcomed prospective students at a weekend event.

Katherine Lymn

The University of Minnesota wants to attract more multicultural students, and to do so, it pulled out all the stops Saturday. More than 200 University students representing the campusâÄôs multicultural community volunteered at a prospective student event, which drew over 800 potential students to campus. The event, âÄúExperience Minnesota,âÄù is in its third year at the University and was funded and organized by the Office of Admissions, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and the Office for Equity and Diversity Office of Admissions associate director Rachelle Hernandez said the event relied on student volunteers to serve as role models for prospective students âÄúIt is so important,âÄù she said. âÄúThe prospective students really want to hear from current students.âÄù Current University students played a variety of roles, including serving as translators and participating in question-and-answer panels. Current student involvement in the event has been steadily increasing every year, Hernandez said. Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Thai and Cambodian translators were requested by families. The majority of high school students were from Minnesota, but some students came from as far away as Arizona and Pennsylvania. Family social science junior Maria Rios attended the event as a Spanish translator, as well as a representative for Hispanic organizations at the University, including the La Raza Student Cultural Center and the Casa Sol Living Learning Community . âÄú[I am here] for whatever needs to be done,âÄù Rios said. Dan Cheng , multicultural recruitment coordinator for the Office of Admissions, said some students performed for the visitors to kickoff the day-long event. The step team of Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc ., an African-American fraternity, performed a step routine for the students. Four members of Voices Merging , a student group at the University, also made a spoken-word poetry performance, which focused on the transition into college life, said performer and communication studies senior Thomas Toley . The Office of Admissions invited student groups to advertise at an information fair. Somali Student Association board member Salma Hussein said there was a big Somali presence at the event. Although the University is a big campus, groups such as SSA allow students to connect, she said. Current Washburn High School freshman Joseph Peeples-Hampton said he got a feeling of campus unity as well. âÄúSo far, [from] what I see of it, itâÄôs cool how everyone is so interconnected,âÄù he said. Voices Merging performer and communication studies senior Jasmine Omorogbe said current University student involvement in the event was crucial to the prospective studentsâÄô views of college. âÄúYou donâÄôt really see a lot of multicultural students [at college] portrayed in movies,âÄù Omorogbe said. âÄúSeeing students who look like you being successful is a great benefit.âÄù