University aims to increase diversity through RISE program

RISE+ran+from+Aug.+19-21+and+served+as+an+orientation+for+students+from+diverse+backgrounds.+%0A%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Joya+Crear
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University aims to increase diversity through RISE program

RISE ran from Aug. 19-21 and served as an orientation for students from diverse backgrounds. 

Photo courtesy of Joya Crear

RISE ran from Aug. 19-21 and served as an orientation for students from diverse backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Joya Crear

RISE ran from Aug. 19-21 and served as an orientation for students from diverse backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Joya Crear

RISE ran from Aug. 19-21 and served as an orientation for students from diverse backgrounds. Photo courtesy of Joya Crear

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Among the university’s efforts to diversify its student population is the program Ready to Inspire Success and Excellence, otherwise known as RISE. The program serves as an orientation service that helps new freshmen from diverse backgrounds acclimate to the campus environment.

“This is our second year really focusing on retention,” Joya Crear, coordinator of the RISE planning team and assistant vice president for student affairs, said.Definitely, we have had more diverse students this year too, geographically as well as culturally.”

The program itself is part of the Office of Engagement and Inclusion, Crear said. This year, RISE ran Aug. 19-21.

Crear also said that Xavier Cole, vice president of student affairs, reached out to alumni who are advocates of student equality to fund this program.

“Coming all the way down from Guatemala and not knowing how to go around the city or around Marquette and using the resources, it was really nice to be able to have a program to help me with that,” Ivan Moreno, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

Raphael Gray, a junior in the College of Communication, was a mentor of the program this year and said his priority was to make sure students like Moreno felt adjusted to campus.

“Our job was to get them acclimated to campus and answer any questions they might have been too afraid to ask,” Gray said.

Gray said the students responded well, even creating a Snapchat group the mentors and students still frequently use.

“I met a lot of people who I still talk to,” Guadalupe Dominguez, a freshman in the College of Engineering, said. “We still hang out almost every day.”

Moreno, Gray and Dominguez all said the Snapchat group was very important to them.

“It was really nice to be able to have a program to help me be around other minorities and find a group of friends where everybody helps each other out,” Moreno said.

In addition to getting used to campus and making friends, the students also got to take part in many activities.

“We went to (America’s Black Holocaust Museum), which isn’t open yet, so I think for them it was a treat to see something that the general public has not,” Crear said.

The students spent a night bowling and dancing, too.

“We call it ‘RISE Takes Over the Annex,’ so we had dinner over there, bowling, and it usually ends with a little dance party with a lot of line dancing,” Crear said.

Dominguez said she also enjoyed the downtime, where they were able to hang out and play hide-and-seek in the basement of Schroeder Hall, where everyone was staying.

Gray said one of his favorite events was a scavenger hunt across campus. This game gave students the opportunity to discover shortcuts and different resources across campus, he said.

“We all got into our mentor groups, and we had to compete for about an hour, running across campus, hitting different checkmarks,” Gray said.

In future years, Crear said the amount of free time may increase, based on student feedback.

“We are now doing a survey to get feedback from the students,” Crear said. “Some of the students have already said in this past week that they wished they had more free time with their mentors just to be able to ask informal questions and to bond with each other.”

Moreno and Dominguez both said they agreed that RISE was an overall better experience than SPARK and freshman orientation because they felt everyone bonded more quickly.

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