The Collegian
Saturday, December 05, 2020

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Diversity ambassadors aim to welcome a diverse student body

<p>Signs reading “Reserved for a future Spider,” are placed in the parking lot across from the Queally Center for Admission and Career Services at the University of Richmond.</p>

Signs reading “Reserved for a future Spider,” are placed in the parking lot across from the Queally Center for Admission and Career Services at the University of Richmond.

University of Richmond diversity ambassadors, employed by the Office of Undergraduate Admission, welcome prospective international and multicultural students to campus through tours, overnight stays and one-on-one engagement.

“A few years ago my team and I saw an opportunity to have a dedicated group of diverse students to support our efforts,” Danita Salone, associate director of admission, wrote in an email on April 10. “We wanted to increase the visibility and participation of students from historically underserved populations and students who are passionate about multicultural issues.”

Salone works to provide leadership and direction for the recruitment of multicultural students, she wrote. She aims to develop new strategies to attract and enroll a diverse student body at UR, she wrote.

The diversity ambassadors program started as the Multicultural Student Council, which helped the admissions office with special visit requests and overnight programming. The goal of the council was to create a team of students who could properly demonstrate the values of diversity and inclusion, Salone wrote.

“The Office of Admission provides a space for our ambassadors to do what they love – enthusiastically and authentically represent the university,” Salone wrote. “Our students are able to find common ground to share their stories and support one another.”

The council grew quickly, from four students in 2017 to 27 in fall 2019, Salone wrote. In fall 2019, it was rebranded into the diversity ambassador program, Salone wrote.

First-year Penny Hu, a diversity ambassador, said the program was new to the UR community and began in the fall of 2019, with their first meeting being in November.

Hu applied for a wide variety of positions in the admissions office last fall, but the admissions office asked her whether she wanted to interview to be a diversity ambassador. Hu said they had discussed that the goal of diversity ambassadors was to increase the number of international students who had come to UR.

First-year Najee’ Tashira Iverson, also a diversity ambassador, said the ambassadors were tasked with being the faces of diversity for prospective students. 

Iverson has been involved in a few activities during her time as an ambassador so far, she said. 

“[An] activity I was tasked with was ushering a group of students from a local high school around D-hall and answering any questions that they had about the university,” Iverson said. “This is so that they see someone that looks like them that is down to earth and is willing to have a real conversation with them about the realities of going to Richmond.”

Hu said another program the ambassadors ran alongside the admissions office was the Multicultural Overnight Visitation Experience, or MOVE.

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“MOVE is an overnight visit program for prospective students of color and students passionate about multicultural interests,” according to the admissions office website.

Hu said a MOVE overnight trip that had been planned for spring 2020 had been canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Iverson became a diversity ambassador in the fall of 2019, and during that fall she hosted a local high school student in her dorm room, she said. 

“I answered all of her questions regarding the application process, about what it was like to be a student of color on campus, as well as just general college questions,” Iverson said.

Salone wrote that the 27 diversity ambassadors at UR had a question they continually asked themselves: “How can we build our community?”  

Salone believes the diversity ambassador program gives students a platform to connect to other Spiders who may come from different backgrounds but are connected in other ways, she wrote.

Contact news writer Liv Ronca at liv.ronca@richmond.edu.

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