The Office of Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement (IME) facilitated their annual retreat, which brings together Lewis & Clark’s first-generation college students and students of color for a two-day community-building and resource-sharing experience. The retreat took place on Sept. 23 and 24 in Molalla, Oregon. Known as Great Expectations, the retreat is carried out through the Leading to Engage All Pioneers (LEAP) Peer Mentorship Program.
This year, student mentors, staff and faculty joined a group of 45 first-year students, totaling 80 participants overall.
IME Director Angela Buck values the interpersonal connections everyone made with one another.
“There were spaces for sharing our stories from the heart and connecting with the collective struggle,” Buck said. “It was a beautiful experience to hear the stories from our incoming students (about what they) have faced before starting at Lewis & Clark and how responsive everyone else was to their stories.”
Participant Aria-Grace Baker ’19 enjoyed experiencing how much the LC community cares about students who had a difficult time getting to college.
“I really like being with people who have experienced some of the same things as me and connecting over that,” Baker said. “As a POC (person of color) and a first-generation student, I really connect with (IME’s) vision to help those who have less knowledge (about college.)”
2017-18 Consortium for Faculty Diversity Dissertation Fellow James Padilioni, Jr. attended the retreat, along with approximately 20 other faculty members, in order to connect with students informally. They discussed research interests and other practical tips for successful students.
“I spoke to several students about their majors … and was able to offer some perspectives on how to navigate a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) in a Black, brown and/or queer body,” Padilioni Jr. said via email. “I could tell from the buzz of activity that the students there were enjoying the opportunity to make new connections and to find a space within Lewis and Clark that is not only open but is intentional about centering underrepresented and first generation students.”
Students participated in workshops and leadership activities over the course of the weekend, and were able to connect with faculty and administration about shared experiences.
The IME retreat had a lot of meaning for Campus Living Administrative Coordinator Arianna Figueroa ’16 because it reminded her of the work she can do to support student endeavors and create experiences that will help students thrive and succeed in college.
“It reminded me that although there are tough moments throughout the college experience there are individuals committed to seeing that their peers and their students have advocates, are successful and feel part of a caring community,” Figueroa said. “Each connection was meaningful to me and I look forward to continuing them. There is no connection too small or too big.”
When Figueroa was an undergraduate at LC, IME was a space that represented home.
“As a staff member, I am happy to be part of IME because I truly believe in the mission and work the office does to create inclusive and representative spaces for all students,” Figueroa said. “I’m always excited to work on efforts to let prospective students know about (Great Expectations).”
According to Buck, IME hopes to build up the LEAP Peer Mentorship Program for first-generation students and students of color, as well as to continue engaging the LC campus in different social justice topics through the IME “Wokeshop” Series.
“It is our job as a community to hold each other in the light of compassion while we are all learning together,” Buck said.