News - Expanding Our Reach, Embracing Diversity

Expanding Our Reach, Embracing Diversity

By Rachel Heston-Davis Expanding Our Reach, Embracing Diversity

Life is full of new beginnings for Jalisa Casey. Not only did she begin her freshman year of college this fall, she entered as part of GC's brand new Mosaic Scholars program.

The Mosaic Diversity Scholarship aims to support a rich multicultural perspective on campus. It provides scholarship incentive to students who perform well academically, are involved in the community, and whose racial or ethnic backgrounds contribute to diversity at the College.

Casey and 15 others make up the first group of Greenville College Mosaic Scholars.

Greenville College President Ivan Filby noted that the fall induction ceremony of Mosaic Diversity Scholarship members marked an important moment in the College’s history, calling the program “vital for the good of Greenville College.” He said that “it’s good for us because we will be changed. These scholars will help us to think differently. They will help us to become an even better version of ourselves.”

Dean of Multicultural Affairs Pedro Valentin hopes the program will “increase diverse scholars’ awareness and engagement on matters of diversity, race, reconciliation and justice.” An intentional focus on these things will further GC’s goal of being a place where “everyone thrives.”

The excitement of helping start such an important initiative isn't lost on the scholars themselves. Speaking of her fellow Mosaic Scholars, Casey says, "At first people were shy, but then they became more outgoing and started becoming more open. It seems like everybody really wants to help and change. I feel like they really want to be here."

Years in the Making

Valentin first thought of a diversity program for GC’s campus nearly a decade ago, after hearing of a similar program at another university. He held onto that dream and helped bring it to life after being named to his current administrative position.

The timing was right for other reasons too. Valantin explains that the new program fits with the College’s strategic plan,“Extending Our Heritage, Expanding Our Reach.”

“One of the College’s goals under this plan is to ‘increase percentage of domestic and international students to 25 percent.’ The Mosaic Scholars program can be a powerful initiative that helps in the recruiting and retention of bright Christian scholars from diverse and underrepresented communities in the pursuit of that goal,” Valentin says.

Community Acts With Personal Impact

Casey and her cohort already have much to think about in terms of campus and community diversity. She names a few events that influenced their thinking this fall:

  • North Park University’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference, Chicago: Casey and other GC Mosaic Scholars joined more than 500 students at this conference to learn about diversity and racial reconciliation. “It was a huge, diverse group of people,” Casey says. “We had a couple of speakers, some African American college presidents. They showed people that no matter where you come from, you can get to where you want to go."
  • Visiting the Cahokia community: Mosaic scholars visited junior high and high school students in Cahokia to talk about higher education and pursuing dreams. "Those kids just really need someone [to be] there for them,” Casey says. “I was talking to them about scholarships. We plan on going more often to show them that we actually care, it's not just a one-time thing.”
  • Involvement with GC’s Mosaic Diversity Group: This student-led, chartered organization predates the scholarship program and promotes awareness and engagement with diversity on campus. Involvement in the group is mandatory for Mosaic Scholars. Casey enjoys their activities. “I've been at every meeting with the Mosaic association. They had the Grill 'N Chill, and they also just had the discussion panel about diversity in churches.”

These events inspired Casey to think harder about diversity, reconciliation, and the future of Greenville College. "It's really opened my eyes to certain things going on, not just at GC, but also around the world related to diversity – how you can go about trying to change things."

She looks forward to watching how the program impacts the campus community. So Does Valentin.

“It’s the central goal of the program to impact our campus through intentional awareness-building and meaningful engagement,” he says. “Mosaic Diversity Scholars are positioned to be at the center of this critical work.”

Learn more:

John Perkins: A Biblical Response Toward Race and Reconciliation

Digital Media Students and Professor Present Original Works in Honor of Dr. King

Diversity and the Church

Serving the Underserved – GC’s 2014 Outstanding Young Alumnus Mike Malone

The programs and scholarships that make these experiences possible for students like Jalisa Casey are funded in part by the Fund for Educational Excellence. Click here to give.

 

This story was published on January 14, 2016




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