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New Belles begin journey at SMC

| Friday, August 22, 2014

On Aug. 21, approximately 380 fresh faces rolled down The Avenue for move-in day. Based on statistics, the Saint Mary’s Class of 2018 looks nearly identical to the sophomores, juniors and seniors who preceded them.

For the past three years, roughly one fifth of Saint Mary’s have come from traditionally underrepresented groups, Mona Bowe, vice president for enrollment management said. Thirteen percent, on the other hand, are legacy students, Bowe said.

“We’re at 18 percent underrepresented students, the last class was right at 20, the class before was at 17,” Bowe said. 

Bowe, who oversees admissions and financial aid for the College, said the consistent admission and enrollment of a diverse student body is imperative to President Carol Ann Mooney’s initiative for the College, Boldly Forward. The plan, originally approved in 2007, explicitly states racial and ethnic diversity as key elements of the College’s academic excellence.

“It’s not just about what the faculty member teaches you in the classroom but what you can learn about the world from the other women in your classroom or in your residence hall,” Bowe said.

Although diversity has not increased dramatically in recent years, Bowe said an incoming class whose population consists of 18 percent underrepresented minorities is a vast improvement on the eight percent when Mooney first became President 11 years ago.

 “Mooney announced during a meeting she had at the College forum on August 20 that in her eleven years here we have gone from 8 percentage of the students being from underrepresented groups to almost 20 percent over all,” Bowe said.

Boldly Forward states that campus culture promoting and embracing international and multicultural perspectives is imperative to create a welcoming environment. Bowe, who also works on retention with Karen Johnson, the vice president for student affairs, confirmed a diverse student body, as well as faculty and staff, is essential for progress.

The different and enriching perspectives of the freshman class, will come from 30 states and four countries — China, Colombia, Chile and Ukraine.

Saint Mary’s commitment to Holy Cross principles strengthens the bond between the women that make up the class of 2018, Bowe said.

“You don’t educate the mind at the expense of the heart or the spirit,” Bowe said. “We educate all three.”

The 381 admitted students came from a pool of 1,687 applicants. Bowe Saint Mary’s small size is a blessing in the admissions’ process.

“We really can take the time to sit down and read every single application, to make sure that the admissions committee knows who the students are and who we’re accepting,” Bowe said. “It’s not just about the academics but to make sure that Saint Mary’s is the right fit for them.”

Bowe said that while the college bases admittance on academic qualifications, the institution seeks leaders to continue the enriched culture of the campus community.

“We’re doing the right thing by admitting the students that are academically qualified to be at Saint Mary’s and complete in 4 years, but also we’re finding the students that are involved in their communities, … in their churches, in their schools [and] have really diverse interest backgrounds,” Bowe said.

One freshman started a clothing drive for Youth for Christ, another went on a mission trip to Joplin, Missouri to help offer aid after destructive storms and yet another collected 500 to 1,000 cans of food annually for a school food drive, Bowe said.

“Those are the kinds of things that don’t show up in your transcript but the fact that we take the time to read every application and we get to know the students shows a lot,” Bowe said.

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