Facing the challenges of obtaining a university education can be intimidating enough. For a multicultural student trying to find a place in this world, the endeavor can be even more difficult.
So the Penn State Multicultural Resource Center steps in, reaching out to and assisting students from under-represented backgrounds in navigating through the system.
The students come to Penn State and are assigned a counselor, MRC Director Moses Davis said. The counselors are there to help them academically in finding tutors and resources and pairing them in research teams, often working with students from their first day as a freshman until graduation.
The center is currently working with about 6,000 students, he said, helping them both academically and helping them grow as young adults.
The MRC honored some of its top students Wednesday during its 24th annual senior awards and faculty/staff recognition reception on campus, awarding three faculty members, six students and a student organization for their work and achievements during their educational careers.
President Eric Barron delivered the opening remarks for the event, noting that Penn State is doing great things to make the community stronger and more inclusive.
At the last board of trustees meeting, he said, future strategies were discussed that focused on the importance of diversity at the university.
Barron outlined three “imperatives” illustrating how diversity strengthened the university — a moral imperative to educate the citizens of the state, country and world; an environmental richness imperative in which students reported a feeling of enrichment when experiencing the world with someone different from themselves; and a business imperative that shows the shift in racial population growth and the pool of students the university will soon draw on.
“The bottom line is, our source of students is becoming increasingly diverse,” he said. “I have to say, are we ready?”
Students and faculty received their awards with gratitude and some tears. Academic scholarship award winner Brooke Durham said she was shocked to be honored but that it was nice to feel supported and recognized.
“The multicultural support here is there when you need it,” she said. “These services are trying (to make a change). It’s slow progress, but it’s not stagnant.
“There’s progress to be made, but there are services here that are doing that.”