T he Multicultural Center was organized in 1985 and has grown from a team of three to a team of nine in 2011. In the year 2003, the Center won the Wolverine "Department of the Year" Award. There has been an 80% increase in multicultural student enrollment since 2000. With extraordinary support from administrators and others, the department has been able to significantly expand its quality and quantity of services, conferences, ethnic programs and celebrations. Academic counseling, workshops, career planning, ethnic clubs, scholarship programs and assistance, financial aid, unique cultural programs, and celebrations and productions are only a few of the services offered. Latino and Native American Initiative programs, Pacific Islander, Black, and Asian programs are also being developed. Currently servicing more than 3661 U.S. ethnic students in 2011, the MC Center also actively participates in Student Success courses and programs, links frequently with numerous International students, the Accessibility Center, the Women's Center, the TRiO Student Support Services, Career and Technical Education, Title VII, and other state and local organizations. It has become a “Gathering Place” and a home away from home for students who enjoy a warm, encouraging environment, a hand up and a chance to obtain the energy needed to overcome challenges during an academic quest. In 2011, the Multicultural Center initiated an outreach to UVU’s Gay and Lesbian population and is a gathering place for “Spectrum,” an LGBT/Straight Alliance club, and all students in the LGBT population. All students from underrepresented populations are welcomed and wanted.
Students provide rich life stories which serve to inspire others. One example is Mike Dugi, a Native American member of the Navajo nation. Raised in a Hogan by grandparents with no running water or electricity, Mike hauled water daily and frequently cooked meals in the traditional manner, underground. He speaks his language with pride and loves his culture, but realized education as the only way to succeed. Entering open-enrollment at UVSC in his mid-twenties, he "caught up" with mainstream students by taking preparatory courses and stayed focused even though it was difficult. As a participant on a Multicultural Student Panel, he recognized faculty in the audience as being specialized experts in various fields, and congratulated them on their expertise. He discovered no one present would be able to "live off the land" and said, "You may have to come to me to learn that essential knowledge." It is important to recognize the cultural nuances and "gifts" our ethnic students contribute to our society, and to respect them, even though many need extra assistance and often come from "behind." Some consider them "high maintenance" students, but if only one out of fifty succeeds, he or she can influence hundreds of family and community members.
There are numerous other inspiring stories; UVU serves the minority population well by continuing to be an open-enrollment, caring institution. Minority populations are exploding in Utah and post-secondary education is the primary solution to allow multicultural individuals to join mainstream society and contribute in productive, meaningful ways to our communities.
"My name is Billie S. Atsitty de Paiva, I am from Cove, AZ located in the Navajo Nation. I am a recent graduate of UVU with a degree in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Psychology and minor in American Indian Studies. I have been a part of the Native Sun Club, UVU Legacy Dance, and the Multicultural Center. Being a part of these different organizations has really helped me grow as a student and a person. When I first arrived at the school it was hard to connect to people, then I was introduced to the Multicultural Center and all that it has to offer: class advising, scholarship help, leadership opportunities, and making new friendships. With this great opportunity I was able to stay connected to my cultural roots as well as having the chance to teach others about my culture. The annual pow wow is a example of a sharing opportunity. I was able to be in a leadership position and also I was able to teach others not just the cultural, but also culinary: making Navajo frybread. Experiences like these, has been so rewarding for me, such as meeting new people from different cultures and places. "
"The real death of America will come when everyone is alike."
-James T. Ellison