Office of Admissions and Financial Aid hosts multicultural visit program for prospective students


Image via Millionasm | Wikimedia Commons

Alumni Hall from Fifth Ave.

By Elle Kenney, Staff Writer

For Marus Chung, a potential student in Pitt’s class of 2027, Pitt’s multicultural visit program “really gives a glimpse of how life will feel at Pitt.” He said he enjoyed meeting a diverse group of other potential students. 

“It’s fun to meet a bunch of people from different backgrounds, different parts of the country,” Chung said. 

On Friday, Pitt invited admitted students who have been “historically underrepresented” in higher education to attend the annual multicultural visit program, hosted by the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid. At the event, held at Alumni Hall, prospective students talked to current faculty and students about opportunities on campus and experiences of non-white students. 

Pitt reimbursed students for their travel expenses. People who live 999 miles away or closer received up to $250, and people who live more than 1,000 miles away got up to $500. 

Molly Swagler, the executive director of enrollment outreach and the assistant vice provost for enrollment, said Pitt created the event after receiving comments from parents who wanted to see how Pitt represents students of color. She said the goal of the program is to ease parents’ concerns and help potential students decide if they belong at Pitt.

“Students and families reached out to us and said, ‘I want a program that addresses what it’s like to be a student of color at Pitt,’” Swagler said. “​​So we try to provide opportunities in our programming for both the parents to connect with administrators on what life looks like for the students — if they’re safe and if they’re secure. We have the programming for Pitt students to connect with the admitted students in a real way.”

The event included speeches from Kenyon Bonner, the vice provost for Student Affairs, who spoke about Pitt’s commitment to fostering diversity and desire to set students up for success. Student Government Board President Danielle Floyd also talked about why she decided to attend Pitt, and encouraged students “to take advantage of every opportunity and forge your own identity.”

Though the OAFA organized the event, Pitt Pathfinders also played a major role throughout the day. Rosie Dailey, a senior communications major, said Pathfinders helped facilitate the event by interacting with students, guiding families and running activities. 

“Our job was to be an extra set of hands for the event,” Dailey said. “We are Pathfinders, so we’re helping them find their path.

Members of Adverse + Poesia, a group “dedicated to celebrating transnational artistic production of Black, Indigenous, disabled people and the LGBTQIA+ community,” also read the poem “Nova Manhãs” by the Brazilian poet Elizandra Souza in Portuguese as well as translated versions in Mandarin, English, Spanish and French. Tonal Disruption, Pitt’s all-gender acapella group, performed songs by Ariana Grande, Leroy Sanchez, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato and Rihanna.  

During the event, admitted students and their parents were split into groups, with parents attending a panel with Pitt faculty and administrators. While their families were attending the panel, the admitted students took part in different activities, including a Ruckus Improv show and a party with Roc the Panther. 

Jane Smith, an OAFA employee, said this is the first year prospective students broke away from their families, allowing them to engage with the Pitt community in an “informal and fun way.” She added that the visit program is important at a predominantly white institution.

“The whole goal is showcasing what the Pitt experience and the Pitt community is like for students who may be otherwise intimidated going to a large predominantly white institution,” Smith said. 

Prospective students like Natalia Candelo, who is from New York, responded positively to the event. 

“It feels like a lot of the students here are the ones that are helping out incoming students,” Candelo said. “They’re very friendly and very welcoming, and it’s making me want to come to Pittsburgh, so I’m excited.” 

Faith Higgins, a potential student from Maryland, also said she appreciated how the event emphasized Pitt’s commitment to diversity. 

“I really like how it spreads diversity,” Wiggins said. “I like seeing a lot of people of color. I think it’s really great.”