Representing the underrepresented: Multicultural Affairs

Being a college student from any community can be stressful—it takes a lot of work to stay on top of education, career and personal responsibilities. For some students from historically underrepresented communities, those challenges can be unique.

That’s where Santos Martinez, Multicultural Affairs director, BernaDette Suwareh, African American student success coordinator, and Renee Beaulieu-Banks, student success specialist, come in. Multicultural Affairs offers services to help eliminate barriers that may hinder or prevent underrepresented students from achieving academic success in their endeavors.

“Underrepresented students” refers to those who have historically had fewer opportunities to attend higher education, including African and African American, American Indian, Chicano, Latino, Hispanic and Pan Asian students.
“We reach out to students when they first arrive,” Suwareh said. “If we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t help.” This help comes in the form of connecting students to resources, such as transportation, or simply listening to students who need someone to talk to. The goal is to empower students and promote success.

Data provided by Institutional Research. View image
Data provided by Institutional Research. View image

Martinez keeps track of the number of students of color enrolled at Metropolitan State each semester, paying close attention to retention rates. From his data, one thing is certainly clear: the number of undergraduate students of color has gone up. From fall 1999 to fall 2011 the total undergraduate student population rose 48.5 percent. In that same time the number of students of color rose 130.9 percent.

While it is a good sign that a more diverse range of students are finding the opportunity to enroll in higher education, Martinez and Suwareh agree that it is important to make sure students are able to be successful once they arrive. First generation college students and those who arrive at Metropolitan State already on academic probation are at especially high risk of not graduating.

Programs such as Students Transforming and Achieving Results and Metropolitan Success Initiative are designed to help students with low GPAs improve their academic performance and stay in school. Although the programs are fairly new, the results so far have been promising.

For more information about these programs and other resources offered by Multicultural Affairs, email multicultural.affairs@metrostate.edu. Students from underrepresented communities can contact a student success coordinator at one of the following numbers:

  • American Indian student success coordinator: 651-793-1560
  • African and African American student success coordinator: 651-793-1541
  • Chicano/Latino/Hispanic student success coordinator: 651-793-1543
  • Pan Asian student success coordinator: 651-793-1543