MONMOUTH – Andrea Arce has joined the Western Oregon University Admissions Office as an admissions counselor focusing on multicultural recruitment. She graduated from WOU with a bachelor’s in social science this past June and is a first-generation college student.
Rob Findtner, the director of the Admissions Office, knew Arce as an undergraduate and believes that she’ll succeed in communicating her story to minority communities and families. One of the barriers to recruiting multicultural populations is that the student is on-board, but it’s often difficult to communicate well with the student’s family. As a first-generation multicultural student, she brings a unique perspective to her position of working with prospective minority students and their families.
While in high school in Mt. Angel, Arce didn’t believe she was college material. “It was really hard getting here because it wasn’t thought of for me. It wasn’t part of my household,” said Arce. It was her high school counselor who encouraged her to try anyway and the effort paid off.
Arce was the recipient of several scholarships that culminated in a full-ride for her college career, including a Diversity Scholarship and David S. Brody Scholarship. She made the most of that financial freedom by participating in a six-week intensive study abroad program in Australia. She also backpacked the east coast of Australia and Fiji. Arce later studied abroad in Mexico as well, and participated in an Alternative Break trip to Peru.
Being a globetrotter wasn’t all Arce wanted to do with her time at WOU, she dedicated herself to on-campus organizations including the Student Enrichment Program, an organization dedicated to first generation students, and the PLUS Team.
As an admissions counselor, Arce will primarily focus in Oregon, but without a defined recruitment territory. Instead of a traditional high school visit, Arce will likely be working with MEChA club advisers and talking individually to families and potential students. She hopes to raise the number of applications from minority populations and increase applications for diversity scholarships.
“We need to recognize that demographics have changed and that we’re helping students from all backgrounds,” said Findtner. “Growth in graduation rates appears highest in underrepresented populations. All students must know about opportunities for college, it’s the right thing to do.”
Now that she’s an alumna, her focus still includes helping first-generation students. Her experiences as a first-gen, and the amazing experiences she had on campus will enable her to communicate her story to families of other first-gen minorities. “It’s very important to relate to the person who’s helping you. If I see these students here next year, or at any college, I’d be so proud of them. They can do it, they can make their dreams come true and we’re here to help,” she said.
Findtner believes her new position is critical to helping underrepresented populations get to college, but he believes it’s a university-wide effort. “The university as a whole is moving in a new direction, we have staff and faculty who recognize it’s important to help all students achieve their higher education goals.”
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Andrea Arce, admissions counselor
Rob Findtner, director, Admissions Office