Student-hosted overnight program gives prospective students a chance to experience multicultural life on campus.
By Ruth Steinhardt
Applying to college posed challenges for Emma Montero. Ms. Montero, who is Latina and grew up in the Bronx, had visited a number of campuses that seemed overwhelmingly white. That made her feel “a little uneasy,” she said.
“New York City is the most diverse place, and I really wanted that to be part of my college experience,” she said.
So when she came to visit the George Washington University, Ms. Montero was slightly apprehensive. But the trip “was the deciding factor in my coming to GW,” she said.
Ms. Montero was a participant in Your GW, an annual fall overnight program with two dates in October and November. Prospective GW students from diverse backgrounds stay with student hosts for a taste of the college experience and a preview of multicultural life and resources on campus.
“Your GW is an overnight program open to any high school senior interested in learning about diversity and inclusion on GW's campus,” said Karime Naime, associate director of admissions. “Overnight programs like Your GW are important because they promote the exchange of ideas and acceptance of others, and they expose high school students to a day in the life of a GW student. They leave campus with a deep understanding of who we are.”
When junior Anthony Abron participated in Your GW as a high school student, it was his first major trip alone from his hometown of Philadelphia. Now, as a member of the Dean’s Council for Multicultural Recruitment, he helps to welcome the next generation of visitors. For him, it’s a way to put his passion for educational access and diversity into practice.
“When you look at access to higher education you can still see that not everyone has the same opportunities,” Mr. Abron said. “So programs like Your GW can provide a window for students who might not see higher education as a path or realistic goal for them.”
Junior Anthony Abron says that Your GW offers a window for students who might not see higher education as a path. (William Atkins/GW Today)
Ms. Montero was one such student. In addition to what she says are disadvantages of her high school, which was small and underfunded with no AP or honors classes, she was concerned about her test scores and about whether she would stand out among applicants who had had more resources.
“I was very limited in what I could do,” she said.
Plus, she worried about the “daunting and tedious” task of applying for financial aid.
During Your GW, she met with admissions counselors who walked her through the complex administrative tangles. At student-run panels, she heard from GW undergraduates who had been through some of the same struggles that made her uncomfortable.
“That was something that really resonated with me,” she said. “It’s key to meet students, because they’re the ones going through what you’re going to go through.”
Freshman Imani Moss said the feeling of community at Your GW was key to her own decision to attend the university. She met both of her current roommates at the program, and said she still sometimes seeks advice from the students who hosted her.
“Diversity has always been important to me,” she said. “Minority students do have a different experience, so I wanted to hear about that. I was really glad to see that GW does value it and takes time to have this overnight and hear minority perspectives.”
Mr. Abron, Ms. Montero and Ms. Moss all are now hosts for Your GW and participated in panels during the fall program. They said being able to share their experiences with prospective students was inspiring.
“I love being able to talk to people about how they can find their own path, and it doesn’t have to be exactly like mine,” Mr. Abron said. “You can do things your own way, but with help and guidance.”
Ms. Montero remembered being approached by one prospective student after this fall’s panel. The student thanked her for sharing her story: She, too, was from an underfunded high school and was beginning to get discouraged about her chances of attending college.
“As someone who has asked those questions and knows those feelings, I think I could relate to that and connect with her,” said Ms. Montero, who reassured the student and suggested that she use her feelings of uncertainty in her admissions essay.
“It’s a chance to motivate and reach people on a personal level,” she said.
If you are an undergraduate who would like to host a prospective GW student, or a faculty member who would like to be involved in Your GW or another overnight program, please contact Karime Naime: [email protected].