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Black alumnae to return to college

Alicia Smith | Friday, October 10, 2008

Saint Mary’s College will be hosting the first ever African American Homecoming October 10 and 11. Saint Mary’s Director of Alumnae Relations, Kara O’Leary told the Observer that the event invited past students to return to the College “to create dialogue, solicit input, and create a sustainable process or forum to better understand the black student experience on campus and their alumnae engagement post graduation.”

According to a schedule provided by O’Leary, the event will hold its official welcome at Saint Mary’s Stapleton Lounge at 5:15 p.m., Friday. O’Leary told The Observer, “Over ten percent of our identified African American alumnae are registered.”

Saint Mary’s President Carol Ann Mooney will begin the weekend with a formal greeting. The welcome ceremony will also include keynote speaker Juanita Boozer Bay. Bay graduated from the College in 1952, and, according to O’Leary, was considered to be Saint Mary’s first African American alumnae graduate.

Bay will be speaking about her experience at Saint Mary’s and its impact on her life. She will also discuss what Saint Mary’s can do to provide students with better experience to help them make a difference in the world.

“I am always thrilled when alumnae are invited back to campus to participate in events where their voice can be heard and their opinion and experience are valued. This event will be no different,” said O’Leary.

Following the greeting, a reception will be held for the alumnae at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall.

The weekend will also include many panel discussions, roundtable discussions, a campus tour, and an ecumenical worship service. The discussions will allow alumnae to give their input to the College. Alumnae will discuss changes they would like to see at Saint Mary’s, as well as what the College can do to keep the alumnae actively involved.

“We are pleased to have such a response for our inaugural African American Alumnae Homecoming,” said O’Leary.

According to a press release from the College, the event will be held in an attempt to learn how to attract more students from ethnic minorities. According to Saint Mary’s Strategic Plan, presented last fall, the College aspires to expand the enrollment of students of underrepresented minorities. Saint Mary’s hopes to achieve an increase of at least 15 percent within the next five years. The plan stated that, “We hope to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the student body as well as its economic diversity.”