The Face of Hope: How Perceived Minorities and Other Topics Have Shaped the Experience and Contributions of Hope Students

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Curtis Gruenler and Professor Alex Galarza

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Throughout the history of higher education, institutions have struggled with multiculturalism. Although there is a myriad of mission statements which proclaim their hope to entice and accommodate minority students, the struggle has remained in need of a solution. In recent years there has been research about the experiences of minority groups in higher education; this research highlights how minority students balance different cultures, how their identities affect their academic contributions, and how they see themselves in a pool of differing students. However, there has been a gap in research at small, private religious institutions. Although Hope College claims to be committed to increasing the diversity among its student body, it tends to draw students of similar backgrounds. While this propensity for the familiar is not a problem in and of itself, the homogeneity that sometimes forms in such groups can develop an echo-chamber that is less able to recognize voices that differ from the established “norm.” With our research we hope to fill this gap, by discussing and analyzing recorded student interviews in a series of podcasts that will highlight issues common among minority students. In exploring the commonalities among minority students at Hope, we will be able to offer not only a window into their experiences, but also a useful tool for institutions in the quest to create an education that encourages and celebrates all students. We assert that in order to accommodate this minority population and to accomplish diversity, the students and faculty of Hope College must create a wider platform for minority groups and make an effort to integrate their culture and experiences into the campus.

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