ALANA award promotes diversity leadership

The ALANA Cultural Diversity Award is an annual award granted to minority students and incoming freshmen who show interest in contributing to cultural diversity on campus. ALANA recipients are required to participate in multicultural groups, attend educational events on cultural diversity and actively educate peers about diversity issues at Maryville College.

For the past four years, the scholarship’s requirements have not been enforced and ALANA recipients have lacked guidance in how to promote diversity on campus. Consequently, the presence of ALANA scholars was not as prevalent in the MC community as other volunteer-based awards, such as the Bonner and Presidential scholarships. The lack of participation of the awardees led the administration to consider discontinuing the ALANA Award.

“They were looking for ways to support other things and were looking how to cut away from things that weren’t maybe working or no one was really paying attention to,” said Larry Ervin, director of multicultural affairs at MC. Ervin, with support of other faculty members, fought against the removal of the ALANA Award. He considers the award to be a valuable opportunity for student involvement in multicultural activities and the celebration of diversity on campus.

Rather than discontinue the award, Ervin would rather the students receiving the award to be recognized for having it. By enforcing the requirements, the scholarship will be more meaningful to the recipients. ALANA recipients will now be required to participate in multicultural groups and events on campus, to keep a journal of their experiences and have an ALANA adviser.

“It’s one thing to be educated, but it’s another thing to educate the people around you,” Ervin said. Ervin believes the ALANA Award’s requirements for students to be involved on campus can also go a long way to improve the college’s retention rate.

“We have found out that the statistics say that the more involved a student is on campus, the more surely that they will stay on campus, that they will have better grades, that they’ll never want to leave,” Ervin said. A student who is more invested in the Maryville community will most likely want to return the following year to continue being a part of that community.

Though ALANA students have not been required until this year to be involved in cultural groups and events on campus, many ALANA scholars were unknowingly fulfilling the requirements before this year.

Since her freshman year, Lexi Rodriguez, a junior ALANA scholar, has participated in the Black Student Association, which offers many opportunities to fulfill ALANA requirements. BSA sponsors multicultural retreats along with several other opportunities to get involved in cultural education.

“What excites me the most is getting other students excited about being involved in stuff,” Rodriguez said. “It really is a great thing to get them involved, because the latest thing they had was the Glimpse conference, and they were so excited about that.”

Glimpse is a diversity retreat that was first held at MC, and is now hosted annually at different schools. ALANA recipients will now be more likely appreciate the opportunities of the scholarship and take pride in receiving it. Though it is a requirement of ALANA scholars to be involved in spreading cultural education and being involved on campus, Ervin hopes that all MC students will want to do the same, and that ALANA recipients will lead the way.

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