It can be difficult for some students to find their drive, but for Rediet Perry, that motivation lies right within her campus.
“It’s always been about representation and being able to see yourself in fields you want to be in,” Perry, a freshman dance performance major, said. “For me, being able to see various black women succeeding and living out their passion drives me because it lets me know that it is possible. Here at TWU, there is a strive to make sure representation is on our campus and that’s so amazing.”
This year’s U.S. News & World Report 2021 ranksTexas Woman’s University first in Texas and ties the college for fifth place nationally in campus-wide ethnic diversity among 1,5000 schools in this fall’s college rankings list. The school serves a student population consisting of 57% of people of color—27% Hispanic, 18% Black and 10% Asian. The annual report, which TWU ranked sixth in diversity last year, is based on user feedback, discussions with higher education experts and deans, new and trending data and literature reviews to evaluate and categorize rankings for colleges each year.
Taking into consideration the university’s ethnic and diverse communities is a priority for administrators, vice president of student life Monica Mendez-Grant said. She said that campus administrators create a multitude of affinity groups like Latinx, Africana and African-American associations and extended communication efforts to promote inclusion and create opportunities for students to connect with others who share similar backgrounds.
“We’ve recently branded ourselves as a Spanish-serving institution,” Mendez-Grant said. “We’re also trying to establish an even better relationship with our affinity groups and to achieve that, we’re helping them to get web pages.”
With the school’s enrollment at an all-time high—the total enrollment increasing by 3% from last year— the diversity index has climbed with more students enrolled.
Mendez also said that a lot of the school’s pride in diversity not only comes from the different cultural backgrounds of students and staff but also the population of students, faculty and staff associated with the LGBTQ+ community. It is these inclusions that Mendez-Grant gives credit to for making various groups feel invited and eager to attend TWU.
Neighboring University of North Texas ranked ninth in this year’s list with 22% Hispanic, 12% Black and 6% Asian population.
Junior English major Hallie Fernandez said that her appreciation extends beyond the ethnic diversity as during her first visit to campus, she recounted visibly noting the variety of individuals and personalities attending the school.
“I definitely noticed the diversity,” Hernandez said. “Not just in race, but in age as well.”
TWU holds even statistics among the different age groups that attend classes both in-person and online. With the oldest age group of students 35 and over making up 20.5% of the student body, the 25-29 and 22-24 age groups following at 18.4% each, while the more traditional university age group of 18-19 making up only 13.6%.
Freshman music education major Kaylee Rangle said she also appreciates the school’s varying age groups and especially its support for more non-traditional students.
“When I first visited TWU, I really loved how family-friendly the campus was, and I love how families can live on campus so parents can continue their education without leaving them behind,” Rangle said.
Freshman dance performance major Rediet Perry said she owes it to the campus’ inclusive culture for motivating and inspiring her through her educational journey.
Fernandez said she is also grateful for the encouraging nature of the school as it has created some of her most enjoyable class experiences.
“My British literature professor, Dr. Bender, is one of the most accepting and open-minded people I have ever had the pleasure of coming across,” Fernadez said. “She is genuinely caring and supportive of all her students and the language that she uses is very thoughtful.”
TWU is a place where Perry not only acknowledges the benefits it may have for her but also for her peers. As an advocate for the success of those around her, she said that she wants other students to feel as welcome as she does at campus and hopes for them to take advantage of the opportunities the school has to offer.
“There’s just so many resources here for every kind of student and I feel like that opens the door and lets them know that there’s possibilities for them out there.”
Gakenia Njenga can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org