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Diverse, first-generation students welcome at UC

Nearly 400 multicultural and first-generation students from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and New Jersey descended on UC’s campus Friday to experience a day in the life of a Bearcat

They came from Indianapolis. Columbus. Louisville. New Jersey. Hundreds of multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores converged on the University of Cincinnati’s campus Friday to experience a day in the life of a Bearcat.

The third annual Discover Cincinnati is an admissions’ recruitment event that reflects UC’s commitment to academic and inclusive excellence, as outlined in its strategic direction Next Lives Here. Nearly 400 students got the chance to learn more about UC’s outstanding academic programs, many of which are nationally ranked, and explore the diverse community of a vibrant, urban Research-1 university.   

“Underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students are among our target populations with the goal to increase diversity at the University of Cincinnati Uptown Campus,” said Delonte LeFlore, UC’s assistant director of admissions and the event’s coordinator.

“Navigating UC can be complex. Our job is to help simplify this for our  students and help them understand the college admissions process,” he said. “And research shows us that students attending an on-campus event is more likely to consider the university as an option.”  

a group of multicultural students on a tour of campus

Multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores toured UC's campus as part of Discover Cincinnati on May 17, 2019. UC Creative Services/Ravenna Rutledge

The daylong event helped make UC’s 137-acre Uptown West campus seem less intimidating for Nevaeh Billingsly, a first-generation student who attends nearby Mount Healthy High School.

“I never thought it would be this big,” gushed the aspiring psychology major and first-generation college student. “I love the diverse group of people, activity groups and major electives you can pick from.”

Billingsly says she was impressed by all the services and accommodations UC offers students, but admits the student groups left her most in awe.  “Five hundred groups is a lot,” she said with a smile. “I’m thinking of joining some.”

The high-energy event — the largest of UC’s  annual events for underrepresented minority admissions and recruitment — worked in cooperation this year with 47 high schools and 10 community-based organizations in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and New Jersey to invite to campus soon-to-be high school juniors (current sophomores) with a minimum 3.0 GPA and who self-identify as multicultural or first-generation college students.

A student sitting in a crowded room laughs

Multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores got the chance to experience life as a Bearcat at Discover Cincinnati on May 17, 2019. UC Creative Services/Ravenna Rutledge

Schools were identified based on a number of factors, including the number of students receiving free and reduced lunches, whether it is located in an urban area and the average number of students who go on to attend college after graduation, including those who apply to UC.  

The event targets sophomores because this is the year students begin to think about the college application process, said DéRecco Lynch, UC’s associate director for admissions–strategic populations.

“We want to get them early because they don’t necessarily know what the pathway is to get into the University of Cincinnati,” he said. “The younger we can get to students, prepare them and plant the seed, the better their chances of getting in to their preferred major.”  

The bearcat mascot stands with his arms around two black female students

Multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores pose with UC's Bearcat mascot at Discover Cincinnati on May 17, 2019. UC Creative Services/Ravenna Rutledge

Dustin Dunlavy, a college advising manager with I Know I Can, a nonprofit college access organization that works with Columbus City Schools, says events like UC’s are unique among universities for reaching out to sophomore students — a good thing, he adds.  

“This is more of an early targeted group, which helps. Now a student going into their junior year has an idea of what college is,” he said.

This is Dunlavy’s second year working with students attending Discover Cincinnati. For multicultural and first-generation students, events like UC’s are even more critical, he said, because sometimes these students don’t have support systems to rely on for advice or encouragement to pursue higher education.

Discover Cincinnati gives students “the opportunity to see and envision themselves on campus,” said Dunlavy. “If they’ve never had that experience before, they don’t know what that feeling is to walk around on campus. They don’t have anything tangible to try and attain.”

A college student leads a group of high school students on a tour of campus

Multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores toured UC's campus as part of Discover Cincinnati on May 17, 2019. UC Creative Services/Ravenna Rutledge

“I had some students last year that, as sophomores, this was the very first time they had been outside of Columbus to see another city, even,” he added.

Staying close to home is important to Jordan McWhorter, a sophomore at Mount Healthy High School.  But the high school football star says he’s also considering the engineering programs at University of Massachusetts and Ohio State — and any potential football scholarships offered him.

“Staying close to my family is important. My brother is in Alabama and I see how much he misses our family. If I really like UC, then it might be a good option for me,” he said.  

But events like Discover Cincinnati, McWhorter said, go a long way in helping him make his decision.  

“I think that a lot of schools don’t do stuff like this often,” he said. “I feel like having people that are thinking about going to college experience it firsthand is pretty cool.”

 

 

Next Lives Here

The University of Cincinnati is dedicated to helping our students design a customized pathway to where they want to go and who they want to be. Our promise is simple: Every Bearcat graduates with a clear focus on cultivating their ideal future. Next Lives Here.

Featured image: Multicultural and first-generation high school sophomores pose with UC's Bearcat mascot at Discover Cincinnati on May 17, 2019. UC Creative Services/Ravenna Rutledge