Horizons connects new multicultural students

New first-year students share an in-depth discussion during one of the activities at the Horizons pre-orientation program. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

By Alex Kamphorst

New first-year students share an in-depth discussion during one of the activities at the Horizons pre-orientation program. Photo: TJ Lievonen/University of Miami

Horizons connects new multicultural students

By Alex Kamphorst
The pre-orientation program introduces a community of new multicultural students to campus life.

As ’Cane Kickoff continues for first-year and transfer students, multicultural students took the opportunity this week to participate in the Horizons pre-orientation program and learn more about the diverse University of Miami community.

“You are sitting in the seat that not only your ancestors but also some of your closest relatives could only have imagined,” said Renée Dickens Callan, executive director of student life, as she welcomed new students in the Donna E. Shalala Student Center. “We encourage you to embark on a journey that allows you to learn more about yourself and to try new things.”

New ’Canes who attended the program – coordinated by the Division of Student Affairs Office of Multicultural Student Affairs – connected with their fellow first-year students of varied multicultural backgrounds, as well as University faculty and staff. Many of the attendees were eager to connect with this community.

“I really wanted to surround myself with people who had similar experiences as me, and to see what resources the University of Miami had for people like me, for people of color and of different backgrounds,” said Julian Crosby, a first-year student participant.

During the program, students had a chance to explore in-depth topics and received a glimpse of what their college experience will look like. Through several activities over the course of the day, all participants learned more about specific experiences and challenges they may encounter during their time at UM.

“This is their first time in college so hearing from other students who were once in their shoes, who are now leading this program, can inspire them and give them a level of comfort that they may not have had initially,” said Kennedy Robinson, assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs.

The program was planned, prepared and led by current undergraduate students who serve as program coordinators and mentors. These students were eager to give advice to their new peers and readily answered questions, which ranged from where to get the best food to how they can express their identity on campus.

“It’s important for students to feel like they have a voice or an outlet to get the proper answers,” said Shamir Cetoute, a senior and one of the program’s coordinators. “Horizons allows different students to give different perspectives, expand their horizons, and open their mind to new ideas.” 

Many of the students responsible for planning the program once participated in it during their first year on campus as well. They use their own experiences to shape the program and to continue inspiring new ’Canes.

“I attended Horizons when I first got here and, while the University supports its multicultural students, we are a relatively small community,” said Cetoute. “This program allows students to find that community, to find other students who not only look like them but who also go through the same trials and tribulations. This program really unites us.”