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The Multicultural Fellowship: Creating Life-Changing Opportunities
08.19.14 |
Lebanon Valley College’s Venus Ricks, director of multicultural affairs, can summarize the Multicultural Fellowships with just one word: opportunity. These Fellowship awards recognize and reward commitment to work, service, and scholarly achievement for African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American and multiracial LVC students.

“Multicultural Fellowships help to make a Lebanon Valley College education accessible to high-achieving domestic minority students,” Ricks said. “Every one of our 162 current Fellowship students has earned participation in the fellowship by demonstrating—and maintaining—a strong academic record.”

The Fellowship awards range from $2,000-$12,000, with an average annual award for 2014 of $9,000 based upon a student’s academic and personal credentials, an interview, and financial need. But financial aid is just one dimension of the Fellowship program; the personal and professional development is a large component with students completing requirements in these areas each semester to remain participants in the program and retain the monetary award. These requirements are an important element in the program as they help students grow and learn for the life experiences after LVC.

“It is not just about checking something off a list so the student can get financial aid,” Ricks elaborates, “it is about how the student develops as an individual and providing that student with future skills and options.” Multicultural Fellows are required to complete service and personal growth activities, and workshops and programs that include financial literacy, leadership, and wellness.

One dimension of the Fellowship that especially helps these students succeed is its mentors. The mentor program pairs an upper-class student with a first-year student to help that student adjust to the demands of post-secondary education. The mentorship program also helps upper-class students to develop leadership skills.

“My experiences in the Multicultural Fellowship program have been great,” said Najee Parker ’17, a music recording technology major from Philadelphia. “Coming to campus early for the program helped me get acclimated to college a little better.” Parker points to Lebanon Valley College alumnus Isaiah Luck ’14 as great source of mentorship. “He helped me, guided me, and it just felt like he was my older brother,” Parker states.

This year’s incoming freshmen class includes 76 Multicultural Fellows, aided by 10 Multicultural Mentors. Of these Fellows about half will participate in the Multicultural Student Bridge Program, a three-day pre-orientation program geared at providing incoming first year and transfer ALANA (African/African American, Latino, Asian and Native American) and multiracial students with a jump start on life at LVC. The program combines peer mentoring, residential living, academic success and leadership development to assist students in making a successful transition to college and the LVC community.

“A Lebanon Valley College education is a life-changing opportunity, and the Multicultural Fellowship helps to make that opportunity possible for these students,” Ricks said. “But the biggest impact of the program is granting these students the opportunity to discover and enhance themselves as they become successful Lebanon Valley College graduates.”

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