4 Ways to Find Success as an Underrepresented Student

Discussing cultural differences is a touchy subject for some people; however, we cannot pretend like they don’t exist. In fact, that is a part of the beauty of the Ohio State experience–the diversity on campus. Navigating the diversity and trying to find yourself in the midst of learning more about your social identity is tough, especially when managing other aspects of your life like your academics, social life, and mental stability.

College marks a time when you are by yourself facing challenges like doing your own laundry, keeping up with a rigorous course load, and exploring the college scene. For some, that may be manageable, but for others…not so much. For minority students it is all of the above…and then some. I believe that being a minority does not just apply to race but also ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, age, gender, or anything else that would imply that you are not among “the majority”. So, let’s make this topic a little more comfortable for all of us.

Here are four tips to make the Ohio State campus experience a little less worrisome for you:

Join an ethnic group.

Find a safe place among your peers–who may also struggle with being the minority–because they can be your best support system. Whether you are Black, Asian, Mexican, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ community, you are never alone! I hate to break it to you, but in this case, you are not unique (smiley face). Human nature suggests that we are most interested in meeting people just like ourselves, so take initiative and put yourself out there to find those people first. Keep in mind that the best friendships begin unexpectedly, and it can all start with one organization meeting.

Take elective classes that best suit you.

Ohio State serves a diverse population. Therefore, the classes that can be taken are limitless: African American studies courses, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality studies courses, Religious Studies courses–the list goes on and on. Those courses are not just taken by people who personally identify with the course subject matter or who agree completely with the ideas conveyed by the instructor and other students; they are meant to expose you to new concepts and ways of thinking, which ultimately help you in that journey to finding yourself. Even if you want to learn about other cultures (as opposed to your own identity), don’t hesitate to take it–you are supposed to explore in college, and the possibilities here are endless!

Chill out.

Assume positive intent at all times. There is no need to be overly sensitive or constantly on edge because someone may or may not have offended you. Have a light heart and take some things with a grain of salt. While our differences are what make us awesome, try not to focus solely on that difference that you may have. Instead, focus on the similarities and common interests you share with others. There is so much more about you than what you identify as and so many ways to connect with other students.

Be proud!

Walk around with your head held high. Don’t be ashamed of who you are, and don’t let small things intimidate you from reaching your full potential. Embrace it! Sometimes I think the thought of reaching your full potential and being as great as you can be scares people. Don’t let that be the case for you because that hinders your ability to accomplish your goals. Always remember that you have the power to achieve anything you put your mind to. Just go for it!!

A Q&A with the Diversity Ambassador Captains

Wait, so you are telling me there is another group of ambassadors who walk backwards and give tours around campus?! Kind of — but not quite. The Diversity Ambassadors, otherwise known as the DAs, do much more than just walk around backwards and give tours.

I had the privilege to interview Teya Siva, who is one of the four captains of the Diversity Ambassadors.

Read on about these amazing people and what they’re able to accomplish here at Ohio State:

1) What exactly is a Diversity Ambassador and what do they do?

Diversity ambassadors are a combination of the duties of both telecounselors and University Ambassadors, but they also go on high school visits. Additionally, they put on events for prospective students. The mission of all of these duties is to increase the diversity here at The Ohio State University. Diversity Ambassadors provide a wealth of experience and information charged with connecting students and their families to our Buckeye community. They provide support to on- and off-campus events, high school visits and tours.

2) Are Diversity Ambassadors affiliated with University Ambassadors?

No, not at all. Diversity Ambassadors have their own program. University Ambassadors give tours, while Diversity Ambassadors do that along with the telecounseling, high school visits, and other events that bring to light the importance of diversity here at The Ohio State University that were mentioned above.

 3) Do DAs have to be “diverse” or represent a minority to get involved in the program?

Nope, not at all. Diversity Ambassadors as a whole represent a wide variety of people from different races, religions, nationalities and cultures. However, they all have one thing in common: they all have the passion for diversity and the program’s mission.

4) How do you get involved to become a Diversity Ambassador?

First you must be qualified to become a DA — those requirements include a minimum GPA of a 2.75, completion of at least one semester at The Ohio State University and that you are not graduating in the spring of the year you apply. If you have met all these requirements, then you can apply!

Diversity Ambassadors have two hiring seasons, one in the winter to start during the spring semester, and another in the summer for the following autumn semester. The application is not put online, some people are invited to apply through email if an advisor, professor, or current Diversity Ambassador think you are a good fit. However, if you are not invited to apply, no sweat — all you have to do is email Diversity Ambassadors that you are passionate and interested in their mission and they will be more than happy to provide you with an application. The hiring season for the upcoming semester will begin in December so email esue-diversityambassadors@osu.edu to get an application.

The application consists of background information, university involvement and 5-8 essay responses (250 words each). After you submit your application, if the DAs are interested in you, they will extend an invitation for an interview, and then they make their final selections. Being a Diversity Ambassador is a huge responsibility to take on, but it is a paid job. During admissions season — so before November 1 — you can expect to put in 5-7 hours per week, and after November 1 it is about 3-5 hours per week.

5)   What is your favorite thing about Diversity Ambassadors?

DA captain Teya Siva said her favorite thing about Diversity Ambassadors is the impact that you can make on a future Buckeye. Dexter Haynes, a DA captain, said one time a student randomly came up to him on campus and told him that he was the reason she chose Ohio State — because of the one-on-one talk that she had with him during her campus visit. It’s those moments that mean the most to him, he said.

Teya added that along with the impact that you could have, you also get a lot of professional development from such a huge leadership position. She said she feels more prepared for the “real world” and to take on a real job. She also added that it does not feel like a job and she’d do it even if she weren’t being paid.

 

So what do DAs do again?? They “ambassadate.” Dexter explains ambassadate as a verb, and its definition is “to provide an authentic and honest perspective of The Ohio State University student experience.” Add it to your dictionary because I just did.

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Now that you are informed on the DAs and are probably on the edge of your seat to apply, thanks to all 45 of the Diversity Ambassadors for all of the hard work they put in to represent our campus well and to show how diverse we are as Buckeyes.

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If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please do not hesitate to email the Diversity Ambassadors directly at esue-diversityambassadors@osu.edu

6 Themes Not to Miss This Semester

If you’re like us in First Year Experience, you love a good theme. Themes can take an experience from basic to amazing, and that’s why the First Year Success Series has six themes to help you have the best first semester ever. Here’s some insight into each of these themes; hopefully you will see some experiences not to be missed!

Theme #1: Academic Engagement and Career Exploration

To stay at Ohio State, you will need to be successful inside the classroom. College requires you to study smarter, learn faster, and think more critically. Once you have gotten the hang of that, you may also want to think about requirements for graduate school, internships in your field of study, or research with a faculty member. Mastering the content in this theme area grants you the opportunity to continue to explore the rest of the collegiate experience–like Welcome Week.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • A+ Research: Where Do You Start?
  • Is Your Major ‘The One’
  • Where’s Woody? Find Woody Hayes in Thompson Library
  • Study Smarter! Memory Tools for Effective Studying

Theme #2: Diversity and Global Awareness

Ohio State is pretty big–over 7,000 new students started here this fall, contributing to a total population of more than 50,000 students. With a community this size, we have people representing many cultures, genders, races, languages, sexual orientations, religions, nationalities, and experiences. Appreciating diversity means more than trying different foods or taking O-H-I-O pictures on a study abroad trip (although those are cool things that you definitely should do). Being a a member of the Buckeye family means learning about different people so that we can all advocate for each other and celebrate our differences. Sessions in this theme will help you begin to explore new cultures and issues, think about studying abroad, and connecting with others who share your identity.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Take a Stand: A Guide to Learning about Yourself & Peers
  • Study Abroad Expo
  • How to be an Ally
  • International Coffee Hour

Theme #3: Finances

Few things are worse than getting to the end of your college experience and realizing you made poor financial decisions which will follow you long after your time at Ohio State is over. What can you do to stretch your dollar and be smart about how you plan your budget for the next fours years? Go to sessions in this theme to make smart decisions about financing your time at Ohio State.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • LANDLORDS, LEASING & LOTS MORE: Get the 43201 about Moving Off-Campus!
  • Personal Finance 101
  • Budgeting Workshop
  • Extreme Couponing

Theme #4: Health and Wellness

With all of the work you’ll do to succeed in the classroom and all of the energy you’ll put into making friends and getting involved, it’s important for you to find ways to take care of yourself; that may include eating healthy, making smart social choices, or hitting the gym. There are actually nine dimensions of wellness for you to think about as a student. Sessions in this theme will help you consider how you are taking care of yourself in each dimension to live a healthy lifestyle during your time at Ohio State.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Party Smart
  • Counting Sheep: How Sleep Impacts Your Success
  • The Right Bite on a College Campus
  • Double Dare

Theme #5: Leadership and Civic Engagement

Were you overwhelmed by all of the opportunities you saw at the Involvement Fair or during Community Commitment? Everyone has told you to get involved, but what will that look like for you? You may want to go to sessions in this theme to think about what your leadership skills and styles look like. Then, you can think about what kinds of issues on campus or in the community matter to you, and commit yourself to those opportunities.

2014 sessions to consider:

  • Your Buckeye Leadership Plan
  • Service in Your First Year Experience
  • Becoming a Nut
  • How to Avoid Poverty Tourism

Theme #6: Buckeye Book Community

All members of the class of 2018 read The Glass Castle this summer…what a great conversation starter at a table in Kennedy Commons! Maybe you and your newfound friend will decide to attend one of the many Success Series sessions where you will have the chance to talk about the themes of the book. The book’s author, Jeannette Walls, comes to campus on September 23!

2014 sessions to consider:

  • An Evening with Jeannette Walls
  • A Different Look at The Glass Castle
  • Pastries and Perspective: The Glass Castle
  • What’s in a question? Research questions and The Glass Castle

Are you ready to check out these themes? Visit go.osu.edu/FYSS and register for your Peer Leader workshop before September 12 to learn more about the First Year Success Series from upperclass students!