The Undergraduate Admission Office’s new Diversity Outreach Interns worked on recruiting more students of color to the college through outreach to local and national communities this semester.
Emerson admissions created the internship for students to work under an admission counselor to increase the amount of students of color in the incoming freshman population. These students are juniors and seniors, and represent four departments: journalism, communication studies, visual and media arts, and performing arts.
Elmer Martinez began working for admissions when the internship became available this spring. Martinez said being fluent in Spanish and coming from a diverse high school in Lowell, Massachusetts, prompted him to apply.
“I think Emerson, and Lee Pelton will remind you in every email … that statistically it has gotten more diverse. I don’t think it is being felt on the ground level by the students of color. I don’t feel any more included. It is not something that a numbers game can solve if the institution itself isn’t acting that way,” Martinez said.
Enrollment management office declined to comment on the internship program at this time.
Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Sylvia Spears works with undergraduate admissions to ensure that the college maintains a student body from all backgrounds.
“What we know from education and from all of the research and literature that is out there is that students gain in critical thinking skills and empathy from living and learning in a diverse environment,” Spears said.
Admissions and the Diversity and Inclusion office are working towards creating more opportunities for students of color to attend Emerson, starting with helping them picture themselves at the college, Spears said. A new, unnamed program allows prospective students to shadow an Emerson student. Prospective students see some of the current students’ classes and stay overnight in a dorm to get the full experience.
In addition, the undergraduate admissions are working toward creating more available scholarships for students of color to attend Emerson.
Though more people of color have applied to the college in the last few years, the challenge Emerson faces is getting the students who are accepted to actually attend Emerson, Spears said.
Alejandra Zimmermann, a journalism major, transferred to Emerson this semester from Miami Dade College and began working for admission counselor Camille Bouknight in September.
Under Bouknight, Zimmermann creates scholarship listings to send out to high schools for students of color.
Zimmermann attends college fairs in Roxbury to reach out to local high school students about applying to Emerson.
“A lot of students were concerned with the diversity ratio Emerson has. I want to make Emerson more accessible to these students because I feel that because Emerson has such a prestigious, wealthy profile, a lot of a students don’t apply,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman immigrated to Miami from Peru when she was three years old. She said her background inspired her to work on the diversity outreach program.
“I want to make a change, because I am proud of where I come from, I am proud of being an immigrant,” Zimmermann said.