Destination Delaware delivers a glimpse of campus life to potential students

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BIANCA THIRUCHITTAMPALAM/THE REVIEW
A gospel choir group from a recent Destination Delaware.

BY
SENIOR REPORTER

After months of filling out applications, obtaining recommendations and eagerly awaiting acceptances comes one of the most difficult decisions in a graduating high school senior’s life: deciding which college to attend.

Clubs and activities, course offerings, dorm conditions and a campus’ atmosphere are all factors that potential students take into account before deciding where they feel happiest spending their next four years. To guide students through this trying time, the Destination Delaware program offers two days of tours, talks and entertainment to immerse potential students in university academics and culture.

This year, the Destination Delaware program took place April 13 and 14. According to admissions counselor Natacha Reyes, who played a role in planning this year’s Destination Delaware event, the purpose of the event is not only to offer an inside look at campus life, but to encourage students to pursue collegiate dreams.

“The students that come are underrepresented students, so students of color, first generation [college students], and [students from] low income [households],” Reyes says. “We want to create access for them to college and see that this is within their reach.”

On Friday, students were taken on an interactive walking tour of the campus. Additionally, Reyes notes that the students selected for the program are “allowed to meet with deans of different colleges, attend different academic lessons [and] they get the director of admissions to speak with them.” Students also engage with Diversity Enrichment Leaders, who answer questions about admissions and campus life.

While Friday’s events primarily deal with the academics and sights around campus, Friday night’s Kaleidoscope event — a showcase of talented organizations around campus — helps give potential students a feel for the culture and activities of the university.

The Kaleidoscope showcase displayed a variety of high-energy performances, many based around dancing or singing, performed by multicultural Resident Student Organizations (RSOs) and multicultural fraternities and sororities. Performances included everything from belly dancing to stepping to a gospel choir.

Jarinat Sola-Rufai, a sophomore majoring in medical diagnostics, was one of the many performers featured on Friday night. Sola-Rufai is the president of a university gospel choir, and although this is her choir’s first year participating in the Kaleidoscope showcase, she recognizes its importance in representing the university’s multicultural organizations.

“It literally broadcasts all things at campus, especially multicultural things,” Sola-Rufai says. “We’re a predominately white institution, so I think that it’s wonderful that people can see [organizations] that are not.”

Students are also paired with a mentor, who is responsible for hosting them in their dorm for a night. Rajvi Thakkar, a sophomore majoring in medical diagnostics and a sister of the Lambda Theta Alpha sorority, recalls from her experience hosting students last year that the job of mentor was more than just providing a room for the student to sleep in; they also acted as guides and confidantes for all topics college-related.

“I actually had two students,” Thakkar says. “One was from California and the other one was from New Jersey, so they were both out of state students who knew nothing about UD. I gave the students I hosted my phone number, and they still reach out to me and ask for advice. Having a connection with somebody, regardless if you go here or not, is just a nice thing to have.”

Thakkar, being both a racial minority — she is Indian — and a first generation student, believes that the diversity students see at Kaleidoscope and throughout the Destination Delaware event is important to their college decision.

“Seeing the kids here today, I can see how diverse the incoming class class could possibly be with all these students that are potentially going here,” Thakkar says. “I think if you see people of color already at the university and you’re a person of color, you see how welcoming the university can be, [and] you’re more likely to go there.”

Reyes echoes Thakkar’s statements, as she believes in Destination Delaware’s power to ease any worries and questions students from underrepresented backgrounds might have before choosing to attend the university.

“College can be very intimidating [and] we can make it less scary by bringing them in a small group where they feel more comfortable,” Reyes says. “That’s the goal, we want them to see themselves here, as a UD student.”

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