Iowa State attracts multicultural students to campus

Dakota Carpenter

Multicultural student enrollment has steadily been increasing over the past several years. Kenyatta Shamburger, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, attributes that to the ISU admissions team’s recruitment efforts.

“Iowa State has a good name and a good brand and a good reputation,” Shamburger said. “When things are going well people want to be a part of that.”

Iowa State has seen a steady rise in African-American or black students since 2010, increasing from 572 to 693, according to the ISU Fact Book. 

There has been a rise in Hispanic or Latino students and Native Hawaiian or students from other Pacific islands. In 2009, there were 770 Hispanic or Latino students and 1,334 the 2013-2014 school year. There were seven Native Hawaiian and students from other Pacific islands in 2009, while there were 29 in 2013-2014.

The total number of minority students in 2009 was 2,532. This year there are nearly 4,000. 

“As students come, they find that there is support for them here,” Shamburger said.

There are a number of resources for multicultural students, such as clubs and organizations and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Multicultural students are defined as domestic individuals who were born and raised in the United States. They choose Iowa State for a number of reasons.

Jerrel Ellis, junior in criminal justice, is originally from Texas. Ellis said he chose Iowa State because he was chosen as a recipient of the George Washington Carver Scholarship. This scholarship is a tuition-based scholarship offered by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Ellis said it was easy to get connected at Iowa State and that students care about each other. He described the ISU community as a family.

Ellis said he thinks diversity is important to have on campus and began getting involved when he arrived. He is now the president of the Men of Color Collective.

The Men of Color Collective’s goal is to create a safe environment for students of color to discuss their problems within a group.

“[Diversity] opens people to different perspectives and views,” Ellis said. “Everyone isn’t from the same place.”

Delysea Watson, freshman in agricultural business, said it is important for multicultural students to be involved in clubs and organizations.

“It’s not only good to put on a resume,” Watson said. “It expands your horizons. It opens your network to many different people.”

Multicultural students can also participate in mentoring programs and greek life.

“Being involved on campus gives opportunity for leadership, growth and development,” Shamburger said. “It also allows you to interact with people that are different than yourself.”

Despite the numerous opportunities for involvement for multicultural students, they can still face challenges. One challenge that Watson still believes exists is discrimination.

She knows there are some students on campus who may have never been exposed to multicultural students prior to coming to Iowa State.

Shamburger said it can be difficult for students walking across campus and not seeing someone who looks like them.

Students who have not had that interaction with multicultural students may have preconceived stereotypes they have created.

“There are students who may have never interacted with students of color,” Shamburger said. “There may be things that they say or do that’s offensive.”

Watson said she would prefer to answer questions rather than have people make assumptions. 

Multicultural students bring a variety of interests to campus. Shamburger said these students not only bring diversity but they bring diverse perspectives, intellectual judgment, scholarship and curiosity.

“As we think about global citizenship, as we think beyond ourselves anywhere we go, we are going to cross paths with someone that is different than us,” Shamburger said.