Multicultural Office helps


    By David Wadley

    Having been a part of the BYU community for more that 25 years, Multicultural Student Services has played a key role in opening doors for countless students.

    Originally organized out of concern for Native American students in the 1970s, MSS has grown to include four other major cultures: Polynesian Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans and Latin Americans.

    “The office does very well at helping the freshmen or just helping students get to college,” said Vania Thomsen, a student assistant in the office. “They provide a lot of resources.”

    Some of the services MSS offers to students are counseling and scholarship awards.

    “The biggest thing is counseling, one on one counseling,” said Lisa Muranaka, MSS director. “We do offer some financial aid scholarships, but there is a misperception that only students on scholarship can come get help from our office, but that”s not true.”

    Muranaka said any student who needs additional help is welcome.

    “I had a scholarship here,” Said Migdalia Cruz, MSS office secretary. “I would come and see my counselor whenever I had a problem, or for the annual checkup.”

    In addition to serving BYU students, MSS has also developed programs that help prepare junior high and high school students for the college experience.

    “We want to give opportunity to those who would probably not have it otherwise,” Muranaka said. “These individuals may be new converts to the church or they may be the first in their families to go to college.”

    To accomplish this goal, MSS developed the Summer of Academic Refinement program in 1997 as a way to prepare multicultural 11th graders for the ACT and introduce them to college life.

    A few years later, the Expedition program was implemented to start the mentoring earlier, in 8th grade.

    “We don”t start the SOAR program until between their 11th and 12th grade years,” Muranaka said. “It”s a little bit too late to prepare and try to make yourself look even better on your application. There”s just not enough time.”

    The first Expedition students will be entering the SOAR program next summer.

    According to Muranaka, about seven percent of the student-body is multicultural students.

    “Are we being used to the full capacity, probably not, are we very busy with what we do, yes we are,” Muranaka said. “Would we love to have the challenge of having more students come through, definitely.”

    Each year, through their mentoring programs and other activities, MSS are always in need of volunteers.

    “We have tons of need for volunteers with the fall programs and winter programs,” Muranka said. “We will take anybody that”s interested and willing and wants to help.”

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