Diversity reflects community

roasting marshmellows

By FAYTHE REEVES, Staff Reporter |

Known as a minority serving institution, Amarillo College has a student population that is 54 percent minority. Out of that 54 percent, 45 percent of minority students are Hispanic.

Comparatively, the city of Amarillo is 60 percent white, 28 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African American, 3 percent Asian, 2 percent multiracial and 1 percent other, according to 2016 statistics at datausa.io.

“We reflect our larger Panhandle community and I am proud of that fact,” Dr. Lowery-Hart, AC president, said.

Diversity and equality are important in order to make colleges and universities more effective in serving all students, according to Lowery-Hart. Collin Witherspoon, executive director of institutional research, said he agrees.

“Especially as a community college, if you are not connecting with people in the community from those different racial or ethnic backgrounds, then you are not really going to be focused on what may be concerns to those specific communities,” Witherspoon said.

According to Arine Garine, a nursing major, having a diverse college population eliminates stereotyping by allowing students to ask questions and learn from others directly. Garine said the diversity at AC also helped make her feel more comfortable.

“Coming from another country, the sense of feeling alone and different gave the feeling of loneliness, so when I realized that there were others who had the same experiences as I did, it allowed me to create new friendships,” Garine said.

AC still has work to do in the area of diversity, according to Lowery-Hart, particularly in ensuring that the AC employee base reflects the student population. He added that just last year, a group of AC employees spent an entire year studying the issue of diversity and making recommendations.

“We are working to reflect their recommendations in our websites, sharing lists of employees who speak different languages and sharing activities on campus that grow our understanding of all cultures found within the college,” Lowery-Hart said.

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