When it comes to institutions of higher education, black and brown students are vastly underrepresented. This fact is not any less true on Emory University’s campus. We need more black and brown students, not only because we are a campus that claims to be dedicated to diversity, but also because students of color offer so much to the social and academic environment of any campus. My question is: How do we get more students of color on Emory University’s campus? I reached out to the Essence of Emory Program, whose staff has been working to address this issue. The Essence of Emory program is a 3-day experience that encourages students of underrepresented cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds and first-generation students to attend Emory University, by allowing them to stay on campus and to inundate themselves in campus life.
I met with Chelsea Jackson to get more information about the program. Jackson is one of two diversity initiatives fellows in the Office of Admissions. She works with the diversity team in the office, and is one of the 4 staff members who plan Essence. I asked Chelsea: How has your experience with the Essence of Emory program had an impact on your life? Jackson states, “Essence has been amazing for me because I've seen black and brown students come directly [to Emory University] because of the program. I've worked in the office since my sophomore year so I've had students come and say, ‘Essence made me choose Emory’ and that's really fulfilling.” Although fulfilling, Jackson states that recruitment is “A LOT” of work especially because “we're competing for the very best students, so our peer institutions are fighting for them as well.” This shows that there is still work to be done when it comes to innovating new ways to get students of color on campus.
I also to talked Bethany Greene, who is an Essence baby. Greene echos Jackson’s sentiments in that she states the experience made her feel that “Emory was a nice place to be”, and secured her decision to attend. Greene claims that being on campus really helped her to see herself at Emory University. Greene brings up an important point. Although, there are many factors as to why black and brown students are underrepresented in institutions of higher education, many black and brown students can’t see themselves on a campus like Emory University, and therefore they do not apply. They need to know that there are other bright students of color that they can relate to on campus. They need to know that they have a place at Emory University. The Essence of Emory program is just one way that the Emory University Office of Admissions has attempted to address these issues, but it can’t be the only way in which it does so. We still need more black and brown students on campus, and as a university that values diversity, we need to innovate even more ways to get students of color on campus.
By: Mariah Doze, Staff Writer