As a part of the NVF summer program, our students from St. Cloud were invited by St. Thomas University to tour its campuses and learn more about the university. The students that attended were made up of middle schoolers who are currently taking the Intro to Web Design summer course.
While at St. Thomas, students were given a tour of both campuses located in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. St. Thomas is one of the largest private universities in Minnesota with over 3,000 minority students. The Minneapolis campus tour and information sessions were led by Brad Pulles, the Associate Dean of Students and Dr. Buffy Smith, Dean and Professor of Sociology. This portion of the tour included information sessions for students to learn more about the diversity at St. Thomas and the opportunities the University provides for those of color. Students were engaged in different social activities to learn more about the importance of higher education. During the tour, both Deans expressed their goal for more diversity at St. Thomas and encouraged more minority enrollments to further diversify the student body.
The second portion of the tour was on the St. Paul campus and this tour was led by Dr. Sadaf Rauf Shier, who is the Associate Chaplain for Muslim students at St. Thomas. The students from St. Cloud were able to ask Dr. Sadaf questions regarding school's culture of inclusivity. Dr. Sadaf was able to assist the students in understanding that although St. Thomas is a university built on Catholic values and principles, it still welcomes and celebrates students from all different backgrounds.
NVF students were also able to connect with current St. Thomas students at the information sessions and ask questions regarding their studies. In these sessions, the importance of higher education was a common theme, but students were reminded that there are many different routes that can be taken for success. At New Vision Foundation, we encourage our students to gain higher education, but we also encourage them to explore other options as we know that success can be achieved in more than one way.
Although the middle schoolers have a long way to go till college, we believe embedding the motivation and drive for success can always start early. As our students gain tech skills and experience through our programs, they can prepare for a future in higher education by allowing them to explore and understand the different opportunities they have as minority students. We are grateful for the partnership with St. Thomas University, and we look forward to higher education opportunities provided to our New Vision Foundation students.