Promoting Diversity in Ag Sciences

Posted: March 15, 2013

Frank met with Derek James, our college’s new Coordinator of Multicultural Programs. Here are a few of the questions he asked him.

What are multicultural programs?

Multicultural programs are here essentially to organize what’s been done and what can be done to promote college-wide and campus-wide diversity, community, and academic success. We offer scholarships, student organizations, and events. We have information sessions for students on topics like careers, research, acceptable dress, interviews, and how to reach out to campus sources. There are other multicultural offices throughout the University, and the College of Ag Sciences’s office assists with many campus-wide programs and opportunities.

Achievers Weekend is coming up soon. Could you explain that?

Achievers Weekend is for underrepresented minorities with an above-average academic standing who are interested in Penn State. This year it goes from Thursday, March 21 to Saturday, March 23. Students come to University Park, learn about Penn State residence life, and get an introduction to the community here from S.M.A.R.T. (the Student Minority Advisory and Recruitment Team). On Friday, they learn about the classroom experience, meet with representatives and directors for each college at the University, get financial aid information, and receive campus tours. On Saturday, we give a presentation on the value of a Penn State education and have a wrap-up session with Q&A. The whole time, these students stay and eat with a student host. We hope the experience provides them with a fair glimpse of what Penn State has to offer.

What are some Ag Sciences student organizations that could be good opportunities for minority students?

Well, MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences) is a national organization that helps students grow in leadership, educational, and career placement preparation as well as community service. Each year, Kraft comes to speak for and recruit from them, and they are involved in an array of conferences and competitions. Another great organization, Ag Advocates, gives students a comprehensive view of the college and additional networking and learning opportunities. Ag Advocates are always excited to welcome minorities since, being the face of Ag Sciences students, they seek to express the college’s diversity.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position?

For one thing, I can’t wait to develop programming and promote our college and the University's multicultural programs. I’ll raise awareness that there’s much more to ag than you might think—biomedical sciences, the environment, and so on. A main goal of mine is to recruit, maintain, and support students through the entirety of their education. I really enjoy meeting students and am looking forward to helping them reach their full potential here. To sum it up, I really want to help students and encourage diversity.

Check here for more information on our college's multicultural programs.