Celebrating diversity in the Class of 2018

Celebrating+diversity+in+the+Class+of+2018

On Aug. 21, hundreds of new students from different places, backgrounds and experiences flooded Guilford’s campus.

While they appreciated the diversity of their group, there is one thing these smart first-years didn’t know: their class is likely the most diverse that Guilford College has ever seen.

“Guilford’s extremely diverse,” said Andy Strickler, dean of admissions and financial aid. “It’s eclectic. It involves students from all over the country with all different vocational and academic interests and passions … (and) tremendous diversity of background.”

According to Strickler, the Admission Office focuses on diversity, seeking out students who are not just tolerant of diversity but also excited by it and wish to enrich it with their presence. In a stunning success by admissions, the Guilford Class of 2018 is the College’s most diverse class yet, with approximately 40 percent of the class made up of underrepresented minorities.

As students tackled the busy schedule of events during new student orientation, they began to take notice of the student body’s diversity.

“It’s really nice to have that diversity of people because it’s easier to find the people you can hang out with,” said first-year Yasan Khalad.

Students embraced the diversity, meeting and befriending classmates from all walks of life.

The events of orientation emphasized diversity. Mirror Me was an event held by the campus’ Multicultural Education Department to educate the new students about the importance of diversity to a well-rounded education. Through presentations and workshops, students learned how to address problems like privilege as well as differences in opinion or perspective.

First-year Max Goodwin attended Mirror Me.

“From some of the reactions and comments I heard … I could see how it (was) necessary,” said Goodwin. “I think it’s good that they did something like that at the beginning of the year.”

Senior and orientation leader De’shauna Ottley agreed.

“I think it was well-needed, especially being a part of orientation, because it opens a door to conversations that you normally don’t have,” said Ottley. “And that’s kind of what we do at Guilford.”

Orientation concluded with Guilford’s traditional Quaker Passing of the Light ceremony, where speakers like Jose Oliva, sophomore and President of Community Senate, expressed high hopes for the new students, partly because of their open-mindedness to perspectives that are new and different.

Last Wednesday, Jane Fernandes also spoke to the students’ potential at Convocation. She emphasized the importance of broadening one’s experience through integrative education, which helps one to understand people’s differences and eventually make a positive difference.

This message is pervasive at Guilford.

“You get to be first-year students at the same time as you have a first-year president,” said Strickler. “The new class will have a pivotal role in the conversations that occur here and who we are a decade from now.”

New students seem to be getting the message.

“That’s the best way to learn and grow as individuals and as a culture, I think,” said Hannah Brewer-Jensen, sophomore and transfer student. “Being able to branch out of your community or culture or country or whatever it is and just kind of open new doors.”

Guilford has been pushing diversity more and more, and people are taking notice.

Ottley was surprised to learn that diversity is so high in this class but then was excited by the idea.

“I think that’s a great start to our year, knowing that our campus is so diverse — especially when we push diversity so hard, being that it’s a part of our core values. I think that’s awesome.”