Multicultural Affairs: A Place for Everyone by Megan Glover and Rachel Ticknor
Both Rachel and Megan can recall when they excitedly told their friends and family that they had been accepted into the Baylor HESA program and had been placed with Multicultural Affairs for their apprenticeships. More often than not, those friends and family members responded with “Why?” or “But you’re not multicultural.” At the time, comments like these made Megan and Rachel second-guess their placements, wondering if they had stolen this opportunity from another applicant who was more qualified, or if they would be unable to be successful in their roles.
In most areas of student affairs, there is no pre-requisite that staff members have personal experience working with a particular student group, so why should that matter in this case? Rachel wondered if her friends and family would be as surprised with her decision if she had told them she was working with veteran, first-generation, or transfer students? “I doubt anyone would have told me I wasn’t qualified to work with first-generation students because my parents went to college; why were they questioning my decision to work with multicultural students?”
That’s the misconception about our office and the students we work with. Multicultural Affairs is “a place for everyone” because everyone has a culture worth recognizing and celebrating! Multicultural Affairs may have a small staff of only six professional staff members, two Graduate apprentices, and four student interns, but it has a HUGE impact across Baylor’s campus. During the first two weeks of the fall semester, Multicultural Affairs hosts Mosaic Week which includes 4 evening programs that help new students get plugged in with various multicultural student organizations on campus. Mosaic Mixer is the kick-off event and this year we had over 1,200 students attend, 34 community sponsors, and 10 student organizations compete in the cultural showcase. Throughout the academic year, the Multicultural Affairs department coordinates programming for four heritage months (Hispanic, Asian & Pacific American, Black History, and Women’s History), which include staff luncheons, student banquets, lunch and learn opportunities, movie showings, and more. The department also creates opportunities for students to engage in discussions regarding diversity, such as through Fusion Fridays or Book Clubs. The Multicultural Affairs Graduate Apprentices have the unique opportunity to facilitate Officer Mixers, Officer Transitional Workshops, speak to the incoming freshman class during each evening of Orientation, support cultural humility training put on by the department, and much more.
One thing that Rachel loves most about her apprenticeship is the opportunity to work with another Graduate Apprentice. “There are two HESA Graduate Apprentices in our department, and I think it’s really unique and special. Not every Apprenticeship allows a first-year HESA student to work so closely with a second-year HESA student. I work with Megan on a lot of departmental projects, but I am also empowered by the Multicultural Affairs staff to work independently. It was clear at the beginning that I would be given a lot of responsibility and freedom, but I have felt supported by everyone these first few months. I transitioned to graduate school from a job with a huge team, and having an apprenticeship in a smaller office is everything for me. Everyone cares about how I’m doing at work, but they also want to make sure I’m successful with my transition to graduate school!”
Serving as a Graduate Apprentice in Multicultural Affairs has been an incredible learning opportunity for Megan. “The staff has been one of my biggest supports throughout the HESA program. They have given me lots of freedom in executing programs and designing new initiatives, and lots of grace as I’ve asked hundreds of questions over the past year! I’ve learned more about event programming, budgeting, building relationships with students and staff members, and how to engage in meaningful discussions regarding diversity. This apprenticeship was exactly what I didn’t know I needed to begin my career as a Student Affairs Professional.”