Texas Tech University Embraces Diversity

April is National Diversity Awareness Month, and Texas Tech University is embracing diversity on campus with programs for underrepresented students.

Juan Munoz, vice president of the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, said the division is dedicated to creating and supporting an environment that allows all members of the university community to be academically and professionally successful.

"The division consists of 10 units committed to activities that foster diversity, equity, and community outreach and engagement," Munoz said. "Our work is visible in the curriculum, in campus life and in faculty affairs."

As Texas Tech strives to become a Tier One research institution, it will witness growth in diverse faculty and student populations, Munoz said. The fall 2010 freshman class was not only the largest, but also the most diverse.

"Diversity invites substantive interactions important for developing critical thinking and leadership skills," Munoz said.

Colleges and universities across the country are aggressively moving to develop diversity and equity structures, Munoz said. Texas Tech is widely viewed as a national leader and model of inclusive excellence in higher education.

Monica J. Williams and Jeremy Cortez, unit coordinators for the Lauro Cavazos & Ophelia Powell-Malone Program, also known as Mentor Tech, said the program provides guidance to underrepresented students.

"The program targets freshman or transfers and helps them get acclimated to Texas Tech," Cortez said. "We give them mentors in the areas they need, whether it is academics or the social aspect of college."

Students from underrepresented populations face unique challenges in addition to adjusting and coping with the rigor of higher education, Williams said. First generation college students need an additional layer of support to help navigate the system and adjust to the demands of the college environment. According to Williams and Cortez, this is just the type of support Mentor Tech offers students.

"Sometimes it is hard for students who come from adversity to break the family cycle," Cortez said. "Mentor Tech gives them a place to feel wanted and at home."

What we should be proud of as affiliates of the university, Williams said, is Texas Tech has an entire division devoted to promoting diversity initiatives and raising diversity awareness on campus.

"The complexion of the nation is changing," Williams said. "If we consider the current demographic composition of our nation, it has shifted. We have to not only recognize differences, but learn to accept and embrace them."

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