As summer approaches, high school seniors face the major life decision of whether or not to attend college and, if so, which one to pick. On Thursday, the Koch Foundation hosted the Koch College for a Day event, in which several multicultural Manhattan High School students toured the campus to learn more about opportunities at K-State.
“We try to get them thinking about college,” said Dawne Martin, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Business Administration. “We’re trying to expose a group of students who might not go to college to go. We try to make them think it’s possible.”
The day started off with a welcome speech to the students. Various speakers discussed the opportunities available to them as prospective college freshmen. One Manhattan High School teacher said some students were unaware of the number of multicultural students at K-State before the event.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Eunice Rivera, who teaches English as a Second Language at MHS. “Most don’t know what to do when they graduate and were very impressed and inspired. They didn’t think there was a lot of diversity here, but there is.”
After the welcome, the students split into two groups. One listened to a speech about finance and accounting and possible careers, while the other heard a speech about the engineering programs. During this speech, the students built catapults as part of a group activity.
“I really liked the engineering part,” said Saudi Alanazi, a junior at MHS. “I love engineering. I wanted to come today so I could see what K-State was about.”
The two groups then switched so that all students could experience both presentations. Martin said the university wants to expose multicultural students to multiple different programs to attract them to K-State.
“When we do things like this, it’s part of a foundation,” Martin said. “Part of the package is that we help increase the numbers multicultural students and their success. We’re diversifying the workforce.”
Afterward, students ate lunch and listened to a panel that consisted of various K-State multicultural students who, like many of the high school students in attendance, originally thought they were not cut out for college.
“I think they were really inspired,” said panelist Caitlyn Wells, junior in public relations. “Many thought college wasn’t for them, but today helped them change their views.”
Wells also volunteered to give students a tour of the campus after the panel. According to Wells, guides receive scripts containing facts about the various buildings the tours visit.
“Since this was a smaller group, I tried to personalize it more,” Wells said. “We tried to tailor the tour as much as possible for those who may not know about the opportunities here.”
Some students were convinced, such as Kathy Davoudi, a sophomore at MHS.
“I really liked the tours,” Davoudi said. “We got to see what students do and how they work daily. I might come here. It depends on what I decide to do. I’m interested in pre-med but I might change to engineering.”
The day ended with an ice cream social in the Flint Hills room of the K-State Student Union. Students discussed their experiences with one other and spoke with various professors and K-State students about the day.
“I got to sit down and talk to them,” Wells said. “I got to know where they’re coming from and stuff. I know a couple of girls were from Germany and living here.”
In order to get ready for college, Martin recommends that students start looking at their grades early in high school and take ACT prep classes.
“Many aren’t told that their grades are important until they are juniors or seniors,” Martin said. “That’s just too late in their career.”
Martin stressed that the point of the day was to get more diversity in the workforce.
“A lot of the baby boomers will be retiring soon,” Martin said. “And there aren’t enough students in college to fill that. So many companies try to focus on diversity in engineering or business careers.”