The end of February presented several events that raised Kirkwood and the community’s awareness of issues our minority students and their families face.

Poster advertising the Cedar Rapids & Linn County positive dialogue

On Saturday, February 21st, a positive dialogue about law enforcement and community relations was hosted at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids.  Several Kirkwood faculty, including Juanita Limas and Chris Cronbaugh, attended along with KCELT instructional designer, Jeremy Slagoski.  We learned that, in order to improve the conditions of our minority students, we need to develop community leaders within our Black and Latino (student) populations.  Click here to read highlights from the #ncldialogue Twitter feed about the event.

Promotional sign for Being Black at Iowa

On the following Wednesday, February 25th, the University of Iowa hosted a lecture by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Englert Theatre in Iowa City.  This was followed by an engaging community discussion about Being Black at Iowa.  Kirkwood faculty, who are currently participating in KCELT’s reading circle of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can do, attended to learn more about the Black experience at the University of Iowa and the Iowa City community.  We found some similarities with the University in regards to retaining African-American students.  Click here to read some highlights from the #BlackatIowa Twitter feed.

Solutions for Improved Student Success KCELT learned about the first event through a new partnership with the Cedar Rapids Civil Right Commission, primarily with LaSheila Yates.  We shared with her our data as shown below, plus our 3% graduation rate of our African-American students versus the 23% overall as Cort Iverson mentioned in a previous post.  

Through the stories our faculty have shared, we have learned that we lose many of our African-American students within the first month of classes.  This baffles our group of faculty committed to diversity, inclusion, and intercultural competence.  Our talks with LaSheila and our participation in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City events have made it clear that we must reach out to our minority students as soon as possible to help them feel welcome and supported by our staff and faculty, a population with a lower proportion of people like them.

We are currently working with LaSheila and building community connections with Diversity Focus, the Cedar Rapids Community Schools, the University of Iowa Diversity Offices, and the Nu Chi Lambda chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity to develop solutions to improve the success of all of our students.

Are you interested in helping our ethnic and racial minority students succeed at Kirkwood?  Have you found success in meeting the needs of our minority students in your class?  If so, please contact us and share your stories.

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