Minority Recruits Find Home

When Greta M. Solinap ’13 was applying to Harvard last fall, she asked her classmate’s older sister, Diana C. Robles ’10, for advice. They had overlapped for a year at Nogales High School in Nogales, Ariz. and had kept in touch sporadically since then, but Solinap did not know Robles was the Mexican-American coordinator for Harvard’s Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program.

Solinap says Robles helped her decide on a topic for her personal statement and gave her general application advice.

Though this time she was helping a friend, it was also all in a day’s work for Robles.

“I gave her advice that I would give anyone who would call the UMRP,” says Robles, who is also a senior coordinator for the program.

GETTING THE WORD OUT

The UMRP, a program associated with the Admissions Office, serves as a resource to minority prospective students. With two student coordinators in each of five categories—African American, Asian American, Latino/Latina, Mexican American, and Native American—the UMRP answers questions about Harvard, the application process, and financial aid.

UMRP also sends students to do recruiting in their local high schools and middle schools. Robles says she used her freshman year trip to visit schools that had not been contacted before. She spent her spring break driving across Arizona to visit fifteen high schools, six more than the average number of stops.

The UMRP usually sends students for winter break and spring break, but the calendar change means there won’t be winter break trips this year.

UMRP Director Roger Banks says the program usually plans hometown recruiting trips between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But Banks says they did not want to plan the trips during final exams period this year. He adds that the UMRP will reconsider bringing back the winter break trips in the future.

Though budget cuts have affected the ten coordinators’ term-time wages, Banks says the program will continue to pay for students’ transportation home for the spring break recruiting.

During the school year, the ten coordinators log six hours a week answering e-mails and phone calls, giving tours and information sessions, and finding hosts for visiting prospective students.

Since Ronnye C. Rutledge ’12 started working as an African American Coordinator this year, she has shared her experience at Harvard and dispelled misconceptions about Harvard life, students’ socioeconomic status, and elitism on campus.

“I’m able to say from my own experience coming from modest means I have felt in no way hindered by my racial identity or economic status,” she says.

Similarly, Co-Coordinator for the Latino Division Lucerito L. Ortiz ’10 says that many of the calls she deals with are from prospective students wondering what it is like to be a minority at Harvard and if there is a sense of community.

FIELDING QUESTIONS

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