After 20 years, MRC still making students feel more at home

University Park, Pa. -- From his desk at Accenture, one of the world’s leading management consultants, Penn State alumnus William Dennis is working hard on a project for JP Morgan Chase, assisting with some of the company's tax provision software. Dennis graduated from Penn State in May 2010 with a degree in energy, business and finance with a math minor. He credits Penn State for helping him get to where he is today, but it is Penn State's Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) that Dennis said kept him in school so he could graduate.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary as part of the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity, the Multicultural Resource Center assists multicultural students in meeting the challenges associated with education and attaining a degree at a major research institution. It was this office that Dennis turned to whenever he needed advice, help or someone to talk to, and it's this office that many other Penn State students have turned to for the same reasons.

Today (April 5) the MRC will recognize graduating seniors excelling as leaders, whether they are behind the scenes in campus organizations, academic front-runners or volunteers, or have overcome obstacles to succeed at Penn State.

"Our office is here to support students in the face of challenge, but we're also here to celebrate their successes," MRC director Tara Williams said. "That's why there are several award categories for students -- we recognize that there are several different ways in which students are serving as leaders and finding success."

The MRC Senior and Faculty/Staff Diversity Recognition Awards ceremony, held yearly in the Hintz Family Alumni Center, also recognizes faculty and staff at Penn State whose work with multicultural students goes above and beyond their job descriptions, according to Williams. She added that it's a great opportunity for students to bring together their families, faculty and staff who have meant a lot to them during their time at Penn State, to thank to them for their support.

For students like Dennis, the MRC was a home away from home. Dennis said everyone in the MRC office was family and he felt that he could talk to them about anything. They were there to assist him with personal and academic issues he faced, and made him feel like more than just a number. In fact, they made him realize he was someone they cared about.

"As a kid coming from the Bronx, entering Penn State was uncomfortable for me," said Dennis. "I had tunnel vision and wasn't willing to change. Being at Penn State and interacting with faculty and my peers allowed me to broaden my scope and accept other ideas and grow positively. The MRC assisted me because at an institution whose majority is white, it is always good to have a place that can ensure you that you belong here, that you are an asset to the community. Without the MRC, I can honestly say that I wouldn't be here today, so I have them to thank."

Last Updated May 20, 2011