Here at UMBC, a place where basketball and chess create an equal (ok, almost equal) buzz, we could not be more proud of the diversity on our campus. Not only are we basketball superstars, and not only are we competing in the final four for the national chess championship, but we also continue to be noted for our commitment to diversity at all levels. In its 2008 rankings, the Princeton Review has once again placed UMBC in the top 10 in the category of “Diverse Student Population.” Since I work closely with the international student population here at UMBC, I am lucky enough to witness some of this diversity firsthand. For example, yesterday, I spoke on the phone with students from Nepal and Pakistan. I answered e-mails from students in China, India, and Korea. I read applications from Nigeria and Denmark. And last night, sometime between work, class, laundry, and getting ready for bed—you know, all that day-to-day stuff that makes life seem a little boring at times—I realized that, well, that’s pretty cool. I mean, I had contact with 7 different countries in one day! Sure, my passport is collecting dust in my sock drawer, but I am still making my mark on the world in some small way. Anyway, I just want to give a shout-out to all of the international students applying to UMBC these days. These students put so much time and effort into their applications and, like most of our prospective students, work SO hard to get here. If you aren’t familiar with the process of getting a student visa to come to the United States… well, consider yourself lucky! I kid, I kid. Though obtaining a visa is a draining process, I like to believe that it is worth it! It is certainly worth it for us here on campus. It takes a lot of work for Michelle (she’s one of our Senior Admissions Counselors and the resident international guru) and I to help these students get here, but the UMBC community gets back so much more. I know a lot of colleges brag about how diverse they are, but don’t always explain why that’s such a great thing. In my opinion, it’s just so valuable to have so many people, in a relatively small space, from so many different nations and backgrounds, with such different life experiences to share. Imagine how interesting the conversations are on a campus like this! And though it doesn’t *quite* satisfy my travel bug, I feel really lucky to have a part in bringing international students on to our campus, and making UMBC that much more diverse.
Check out the ranking at http://www.princetonreview.com/
And see UMBC’s Diversity Awareness Calendar, for upcoming campus events: http://www.umbc.edu/studentlife/mosaic/calendar_static.php