BYU’s Multicultural Student Services gives American multicultural students the tools to succeed both academically and socially, while promoting diversity on campus.
The Multicultural Student Services office, located in room 1320 of the Wilkinson Student Center, focuses on helping American multicultural students in all aspects of their experience at BYU. The office also promotes diversity through various programs and events throughout the year. These initiatives help multicultural students succeed and educate people about the different cultures on campus.
Nathan Ormsby, assistant director and advisor at Multicultural Student Services, said the office is an advisement center for multicultural students.
“The first thing we do is advise,” Ormsby said. “We are here to meet with students and talk to them not only about class schedules, but adjusting to BYU, cultural challenges and a whole range of issues they might be going through as they are trying to integrate into BYU.”
One program endorsed by Multicultural Student Services is called SOAR, or Summer of Academic Refinement. SOAR is a week-long college preparation camp.
“We do ACT prep classes and other workshops to help them understand the different majors BYU has,” Ormsby said. “They also learn how to apply to college and scholarships. They learn about the Honor Code. They visit the temple and some local landmarks.”
Jonathan Ige, administrative assistant to Nathan Ormsby, discussed the benefits of the Multicultural Student Services.
“Its a great opportunity to meet multicultural students from across the U.S. It’s an opportunity to introduce them to college life and to BYU itself and what we have to offer,” Ige said.
Tanginoa Tavake, a multicultural BYU student studying actuarial science, said his experience at SOAR and Multicultural Student Services helped him choose BYU and eventually qualified him to receive a scholarship.
“Its called the Enriching the Environment Scholarship, and it’s through the MSS,” Tavake said. “Had it not been for SOAR, I wouldn’t have been at BYU, and if it hadn’t been for the scholarship I most definitely wouldn’t have been here. It really helped me out financially.”
Besides the the SOAR program, there are other events throughout the academic year that help recruit hard-working multicultural students and help them showcase their culture and promote diversity.
“We do cultural programs. It’s sort of the long-standing tradition of what we do in the office,” Ormsby said. ” We have the Luau and Fiesta, PowWow and Black History Month. Those cultural programs are really the foundation of ways for students and others to get involved.”
Tavake expressed his support for the programs and how it has been an important part of his BYU experience.
“I liked Luau because I participated six of the seven years so that was fun. I got to share my culture with others and learn about other cultures all while sharing it with family and friends,” Tavake said.
He also shared how Multicultural Student Services has enriched his college experience overall.
“It was good to go through Multicultural Student Services because they helped me find my purpose and the reason why they gave me the scholarship, and why it’s beneficial for BYU to have students like us to contribute to the culture and to the diversity and to BYU itself,” Tavake said. “I value my education even more since being at BYU and getting involved with Multicultural Student Services.”
Other students that have gone through the Multicultural Student Services have also expressed their love and appreciation for the office.
Sini Leka, a BYU multicultural student, said she has felt the support at the Multicultural Student Services office has been vital in her success.
“Above all, it has been an amazing support system for me, in more ways than one,” Leka said. “The financial support is great, but what I appreciate more are the counselors that are assigned to you to help you feel the most comfortable through your BYU experience.”
She also said she was guided by one of the many caring advisors.
“When I came to BYU, my intended major was business,” Leka said. “After feeling unhappy for some time about it, I went in for a meeting with my counselor at the time, Moises, and he helped me figure out what my passions were and pointed me towards the major that I am currently in (SFL Family Studies) and I love it.”
Leka said she loves what Multicultural Student Services does at BYU.
“The chance that we get as minority groups at BYU to showcase our cultures and share it with people who are less familiar is one of my favorite things that they do,” Leka said. “Coming from Oakland, it was a huge culture shock to be the minority here, but Multicultural Student Services does make being a minority here at BYU so much easier. They’re like a family member you know you can always count on and it gives you a sense of comfort.”
The Multicultural Student Services office is there to help all multicultural students succeed academically, but its many programs can be accessed by anyone wanting to learn more about getting involved with different cultures.
“One thing to keep in mind is that these programs such as Luau, Fiesta, PowWow, Walk of Life are not just for multicultural students. Anyone can get involved and it’s a great way to learn about different cultures,” Ormsby said.