The University of Northern Iowa has created a new position within the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice as part of an institutional effort to better retain, recruit and serve students of color.
The position, retention and mentoring coordinator, was filled by Dacia Carter, who will develop and expand programs designed to mentor and serve underrepresented students on campus.
“Our mentoring programs will be a very important and beneficial component to the college experience for our underrepresented and underserved populations,” Carter said. “We will give them the attention and support they deserve and equip them with the tools and resources necessary to become self-sufficient, resilient and to ultimately thrive through their college years and beyond.”
Carter will also focus on helping minority students identify allies on campus who can help them flourish amid the challenges that are unique to underrepresented student populations.
“The students need to know I am working to identify and collaborate with allies who are here on campus who have their best interests at heart and in mind,” Carter said. “There are people who are working diligently to provide a more diverse and inclusive campus community and we are working to get it right.”
The core of the position’s responsibilities is centered around the development of a four-year mentorship experience that includes curricular and co-curricular involvement to increase student sense of belonging.
Carter will also help develop new programs, including a multicultural student day, which was requested by the Racial and Ethnic Coalition, and programs around graduation and leadership. Carter will also collaborate with Student Success and Retention on student engagement and student leadership.
“The programs I will be developing or expanding will be student centered - placing the needs of the students first, because they should be our priority,” Carter said. “I want our students to know they are supported, valued and important.”
Carter’s position was created by a committee formed to analyze the campus climate and community to systematically think about multicultural retention. The committee was co-chaired by Jamie Chidozie, director of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, and Kristin Woods, interim assistant vice president.
Before arriving at UNI, Carter, who graduated from UNI in 2016, worked as a youth program facilitator for Juvenile Court Services and a youth program coordinator at the Center of Attention Community Resource Center in Waterloo. In these roles, Carter would teach students of color in schools and community about resiliency and personal development.