Harriet Barlow, who heads a multicultural academic resource center at UNLV, told a group of 275 African American students that she is “living proof of the value of higher education.”
Barlow, speaking during the university’s African American Scholars Day, said Friday that she grew up in Robbins, a poor suburb outside Chicago, and never thought she would be where she is now.
“Who knew on this day, February 8, 2019, that I, an African American woman from the Midwest would find myself in Las Vegas, speaking to a group of young, brilliant, beautiful African American (students) and students of color to tell you that you … can fly and you can dive and you can soar,” said Barlow, executive director of The Intersection resource center at UNLV.
Barlow’s speech came during the event designed to show high school juniors the opportunities and resources available for students of color at UNLV.
The last two years UNLV has been named one of the most diverse undergraduate campuses in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The list ranks schools based on ethnic diversity. Last year, a University of Southern California report gave UNLV an average ranking for black student access and equity.
The USC ranking reported UNLV’s black student population was 7.6 percent, below the state demographic, reported as 9.8 percent in 2018, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Laurel Pritchard, vice provost of undergraduate education, said university faculty heard from students at a recent summit that they often weren’t aware of resources available to them.
Pritchard said African American Scholars Day helps disseminate information about campus resources early, “before students have made a decision” on where to go to college.
Cheyenne High School 11th grader Charlie Moore said he was excited to learn about different majors, minors and electives available at UNLV.
“For me, I’m trying to go to college for business and entertainment,” Moore said.
Students from Democracy Preparatory Academy at Agassi Campus as well as Arbor View, Canyon Springs, Cheyenne, Clark and Mojave high schools toured the campus and learned about tools available to students.
Cheyenne High counselor Cashia Kearney said she was glad the students were getting exposure to their hometown university and finding out about new technology available to UNLV students.
Barlow said students of color are often first-generation college students and “may not have connections or knowledge of the various resources, and the idea of going to college is not even something that is thought about.”
“To be able to have activities like this where students can see people who look like them who have taken the path through college and that it is possible is always very good,” she said.