The University of Wisconsin-Platteville hosted several specialty visits this fall, bringing dozens of students from across the tri-state area to campus. The events included Spanish Visit Day on Oct. 16, a Darlington [Wisconsin] High School ESL group visit on Oct. 21 and, most recently, a Multicultural Visit Day on Nov. 13. The outreach events gave prospective students with similar backgrounds the opportunity to tour campus, interact with current students and learn about different resources and student organizations.
UW-Platteville alumna and Darlington High School bilingual teacher Kalee Crist brought 35 of her Spanish-speaking students to observe the classroom of Dr. Chris Schulenburg, professor of Spanish. The school visit was through the Paths to Platteville program. Schulenburg called it a valuable experience for everyone involved.
“The [Darlington] students asked questions and were able to see what my students do. My students announced their majors, minors and talked about what they do on the weekends,” he said. “I tried to make sure many students talked. My students listened to the [Darlington] students, their accents, experiences and where they were from. It puts a face to a language.”
Schulenburg believes the visit gave the Darlington students a better understanding of what the UW-Platteville campus community all entails. He acknowledged the importance of having prospective students know the university is made up of students from across the globe.
“The [Darlington] students are very serious about doing undergraduate education. Many of these students come from primarily Spanish-speaking families. These are students who are bilingual and who have great aspirations and talents,” said Schulenburg. “I hope they learned that they are ready for the university.”
Prospective students and their families also had the opportunity to attend Spanish Visit Day, where the visit was offered completely in Spanish, and Multicultural Visit Day. The Multicultural visit focused on services and opportunities for students of color. The visit featured speakers from the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including staff members from the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and TRIO Student Support Services.
Robert Stallion, UW-Platteville admission counselor and multicultural outreach specialist, noted it was the first time the university had offered those two visits. He emphasized the importance for students and families to see representation on campus.
“To provide these opportunities for so many students of color and their families to experience UW-Platteville is really big,” said Stallion. “It helps to diversify not only the student population on campus, but it helps to spread the word about the different opportunities UW-Platteville has to offer for its many different students. To offer these visits will continue to create access to higher education for low-income, disenfranchised students as well as students of color and students of many other different backgrounds.”
Stallion, who graduated from UW-Platteville in 2013, said it’s important to highlight resources such as OMSA and TRIO while also introducing students to diverse student organizations like the Latino Student Union and Black Student Union.
“As students check in for their visit, they get to stop and have conversations with these staff members and students,” he said. “They are being welcomed by campus and people who look like them. It’s huge and goes a long way in making those students feel welcomed.”
As the UW-Platteville campus community continues to create a more inclusive environment, Stallion said specialty visits help build upon those efforts. He said for many students of color, Southwest Wisconsin often looks a little different then their hometown area, but he encourages students with this philosophy.
“If you give UW-Platteville a chance and get out there and meet new people, try new things and have new experiences, you will have a really great time on our campus,” said Stallion. “It’s what the college experience is all about, to broaden your horizon and to get out of your comfort zone. If the students and their families walk away realizing that they can create a great environment for themselves here on our campus, I think that’s a really good thing. UW-Platteville is still growing and learning in regards to supporting minority groups, but this campus has come a long way from where it used to be. What the future holds as far as opportunities for minority groups on our campus should be exciting.”
To schedule a campus tour, visit www.uwplatt.edu/visit.