Feb. 16, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Opportunity Knocks provides
‘home away from home’ welcome
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Alexandra Davis, a Slippery Rock University student from Pittsburgh, said the Opportunity Knocks admissions program targeting minority high school seniors cemented her decision to attend SRU. “Once I attended, I knew SRU was the school for me,” said Davis, an undeclared major who participated in the program.
Opportunity Knocks begins today with 67 students from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio participating. Fifty SRU undergraduates will serve as hosts, showing the prospective students the ropes of college life. Alejandra Mcfern, SRU assistant director of admissions, coordinates Opportunity Knocks, which is using a “Mardi Gras” theme.
“Coming to a program like Opportunity Knocks really gives students a sense of belonging,” Mcfern said. “We’re including them in different areas. They’re meeting professors. They’re meeting peers. They’re meeting professionals from across campus. We want to try, early on, to make them feel comfortable so that they can see Slippery Rock as a home away from home.”
This year’s program includes two new elements. Students will go on a scavenger hunt throughout campus to help them learn more about what the University has to offers. Prizes for the winning team are being donated by the Student Government Association Bookstore. Students will also meet with Pam Frigot, director of international services, to learn about study-abroad opportunities.
The thrust of the program is academics. Students indicated on their registration paperwork their area of academic interest. Based on their response, they will connect with a faculty member from that area during a 30-minute information session in the University Union. Students will meet professors from biology, business, communication, criminology, education, exercise and rehabilitative sciences, music, psychology, social work and exploratory studies advisers.
Students will eat at Boozel Dining Hall, spend the night with a host in a residence hall, and participate in a panel discussion and other events Saturday. They will also learn more about scholarship and financial aid opportunities.
Davis said Opportunity Knocks was great because it enabled her to meet students and ask questions, gaining the inside scoop about SRU academics and co-curricular experiences. The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership participates every year and speaks to students about community service and leadership opportunities.
“I made awesome friends that I am still friends with today,” Davis said. “What I liked about the program is that when you go on a tour of campus, you see the diversity on campus and I liked meeting people in general.”
Davis said Opportunity Knocks supports multiculturalism.
“It is important to outreach to minority students because it will add more diversity to the campus community and more cultural awareness to the student body,” she said.
Marilyn Viveros, a secondary education/Spanish major from Canonsburg, recalled Opportunity Knocks as fun and enjoyable and added that SRU does a good job with inclusion and diversity.
“I learned a lot and made lots of new friends that I still talk to today,” she said. “I loved the campus and all of the diverse clubs and activities offered at this University. It is a wonderful campus and anyone would be lucky to come here.”
While academics remain the primary focus of Opportunity Knocks, the program showcases the social aspects of SRU by offering a movie and popcorn event and a college mixer with games. On Friday night, current SRU students, dubbed “Rock Stars,” will provide entertainment, including rap, poetry readings, a mime performance, dance, piano concert and comedy.
Mcfern said SRU provides free transportation to and from campus, picking students up by bust and van in Pittsburgh, Erie, Sharon and Cleveland.
“We feel Opportunity Knocks is such an important program,” Mcfern said. “The Office of Multicultural Development does a great job of sharing with students the many different diversity-focused clubs and organizations they can be a part of. Some of the challenges minority students feel at a predominately white campus is just feeling included. Opportunity Knocks enables them to see that, OK, it is a predominately white campus, but there are people here like me, who I have a lot in common with. A lot of our hosts previously attended the program and are current thriving on our campus.”
Mcfern said interaction with current students, all of whom live on campus, and the overnight experience, are big selling points.
“This program really helps students narrow their choices,” she said. “The overnight experience is huge.”