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College Diversity

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat better way to figure out if a college is going to be right for you then spending three days living on campus with other prospective  students? I had the opportunity to do that along with 50 other students from all over the country. We were all selected to participate in Discovering University of Vermont’s Diversity Admissions  program. The “Discovering UVM” program is for high school seniors from underrepresented groups that might be interested in attending the University of Vermont.

This photo was taken while students were looking at the academic expo

From the moment I walked into the dining room, and saw different colored faces, I knew that I had found my people.  This program was designed to improve diversity at UVM and many other universities now have similar programs. Looking back at this opportunity, it was really cool to meet people from very different backgrounds and to hear about how being a minority has impacted them.  It was amazing to see people really come together as a community.   It was a great new experience.

I had a lot of trouble in my previous high school, being one of the only students of color in my school. I am Romanian and came to Maine when I was two years old. I had to learn English and grew up feeling different from my peers because of my cultural background. It was very hard for me to just ignore that I was treated differently in classrooms and in friendships. I think that at UVM a real effort is being made to educate students about  accepting everyone for who they really are no matter what their ethnicity is.

Many schools are working to make their communities more diverse. For example, according to the Education Board, in 2016, Penn State University had 3,325 international ethnic students and 1,650  African-Americans enrolled.  Many universities around the country are trying to incorporate diversity in their campuses and are making an effort to attract minority students.  Since the Great Recession, colleges have changed in diversity drastically. In 2014, diversity on campuses jumped by 86% over the past decade. The goal is for diversity to change behavior of students and faculty toward people of color and to treat them the same way as they do as white students.

“I chose to apply to the UVM program because I heard of the school and was already interested. I also wanted to interact with students that went through the same process, and talk to admissions and people who could guide me,” said Janet Cepeda Diaz from Boca Raton, Florida, who attended the weekend at UVM.

“I love the opportunities that are offered at UVM and the togetherness in the community. Also, how all of the professors and faculty all seem to care so much about their students,” said Yashi Wanoza ‘18 from New Hampshire.

According to Emmanuel Tejeda who works in the UVM admissions department, this program has been running for over 10+ years and has opened its doors to  over 1,000 students who have not had the experience of visiting a college campus, and all the opportunities that are available in a campus like UVM.

“The decision to make a program like this, was a result of how many students from underrepresented backgrounds were attending the University of Vermont. It is defined as first-generation students and underrepresented people of color.”

“The University of Vermont continues to grow its numbers of first generation, students of color, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs. We still have a lot of work to do to increase our percentages and we prioritise experience rather than percentages, because at UVM students are not just a number,” said Tejeda.

During our three days at UVM, we got to sleep in dorm rooms as well as eat in the dining hall. We also got to sit in on a college class being Molecular Genetics. It was really a cool experience to see how professors really interact with their students and make everyone feel included.

“I speak Spanish, English and French, and both of my parents went to college and graduated with doctorate degrees. It’s more challenging get a doctorate degree when you speak a different language. The UVM Discovery Program gave me an eye-opening experience and helped me visualize myself at UVM if I was accepted there.  It made me excited about the whole college experience and what I hope to study in the future.  While being at UVM for a couple of days it allowed me to put myself in a good  position to get in next year. This opportunity  allowed me to experience what being a student at UVM was going to be like,” said Diaz.

As I reflect on my experience at UVM, I realize how important it is for me to find a school that has a diverse student body and that makes an effort to be inclusive.  My experience as a student of color has been much more comfortable at TA and I would like to continue to be a part of this type of community when I move on to college.  


If you are a senior and are interested in UVM, click this link for more information.

Daniella Crane
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