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Multicultural programs honored with Noel-Levitz award

On Wednesday, the multicultural and international community at St. Kate’s was filled with warmth and pride. Not only did students, alumnae, faculty and staff reunite in the Rauenhorst Ballroom for the new school year, they gathered to celebrate the University's Peer Mentor Program.

The program, run by the Office of Multicultural and International Programs and Services (MIPS), recently landed the prestigious 2011 Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award at the National Conference on Student Recruitment, Marketing and Retention in Denver.

“The purpose of the award was to recognize the most successful, state-of-the-art retention programs,” said Director of Retention Ellen Richter-Norgel at the Sept. 14 celebration on campus. St. Kate's Peer Mentor Program pairs multicultural students in their first year with multicultural students in their sophomore, junior or senior years.

Richter-Norgel noted that the retention rate for students in the program was higher than the University's overall first-year, cohort retention rate — a rare statistic nationally and a first at St. Kate’s. “That’s just amazing!” she said.

Multicultural students pay it forward

Narlina Lalani '10 joined the Peer Mentor Program as a mentee, looking to make a smooth transition into university life. By her junior year, she decided the experience of working with a mentor was so valuable that she had to pass on what she had learned to other students.

“In my third year at St. Kate’s, I became a mentor so that I could be that role model, I could give that support,” said Lalani, one of several guest speakers at the Wednesday event.

Bella Muhia '12, a nursing major, said her experience as a mentee also inspired her to pay it forward.

“My journey through the Peer Mentor Program has been remarkable,” she said. “Since that experience, I wanted to be that sister and friend to another student. Long live (the) Peer Mentor Program!”

An honor for the University

After guest speakers shared their personal stories, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Brian Bruess offered his gratitude to MIPS students and faculty for their work on the Peer Mentor Program.

“This award and this program is really remarkable,” he said. Bruess said that the retention numbers achieved through the program demonstrate a commitment to multicultural students attending St. Kate’s. “It’s also a profoundly important piece for the University,” he added.

Bruess presented the 2011 Lee Noel-Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award to Assistant Director of MIPS and Peer Mentor Program Coordinator Chuayi Yang.

This fall, St. Kate's welcomed 17 international students — and nearly all were present at the MIPS welcome and award ceremony on September 14. The students hail from Poland, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Uganda, Nigeria and Brazil, and among them are three language assistants (from Spain, France and Chile) and five UGRAD Program scholars sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Sep. 16, 2011 by Melissa Kaelin and Pauline Oo

See also: Faculty, Leadership, Social Justice, Students