Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) started its annual Symposium on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, welcoming over 100 students, parents, guardians and loved ones to Stafford Commons. Symposium was created to foster a sense of community for undergraduate first-year and transfer students of color and first-generation students with diverse intersecting identities while providing them with information about campus support, personnel and resources. These resources serve as a basis for helping ensure their academic, social and emotional success at NC State. Symposium, which took place across three days, assists students in connecting with each other, selected student leaders, as well as campus community center leaders and community partners.
During the program, students processed their thoughts and feelings about entering a college community during a pandemic and after varying events that occurred throughout 2020 and 2021. Students participated in discussions with each other, MSA student leaders and community center directors. The Counseling Center also worked collaboratively with MSA by being present in case any student felt emotionally overwhelmed during the program, specifically during the discussion around events of 2020. Following the discussion, students engaged in breakout sessions, where they were able to learn about aspects of the campus and get information regarding resources. Specific breakout sessions covered taking ownership of their mental space and wellness with the Counseling Center; utilizing the recreation center to achieve physical wellness; and engaging in mindfulness practices via a wellness walk and meditation; and participating in a special panel with NC State alumni, a conversation with the academic success center and an exploratory conversation with the Career Center. Students also met with diversity directors from their specific colleges and engaged in various expressive arts modalities (“paint and sip” and a vision board activity). To complete the event, students had a final dinner and a dance party where they got to dance with MSA staff and build deeper connections with each other.
Students shared that they enjoyed being able to come to campus early and make deep and meaningful connections with each other before classes started. Students also enjoyed building mentor relationships with upperclassmen and staff. After all the uncertainty of the last two years, students disclosed how engaging in Symposium helped them feel comfortable to start their new journey at NC State and engage more deeply with MSA and the other community centers.
Keleigh Blount, Ph.D., is assistant director in Multicultural Student Affairs.