CONWAY — When Belleville, Ill., native Alexis Ray, 22, first stepped foot on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas, she didn’t know a soul.
That’s when she started seeing flyers for “Mentor Mayhem,” a picnic sponsored by the university’s Minority Mentorship Program.
“I was like, ‘What is that?'” Ray, now a senior majoring in special education, said. “UCA is a predominantly white institution. Before I came here, I was worried that I wouldn’t find people that looked like me. So when I went to Mentor Mayhem, I saw all these people that looked like me. I was like, ‘Wow. This is going to be my community. This is where I’m going to find myself throughout my years in college.'”
The Minority Mentorship Program was started at the college in 1991 by its Office of Diversity and Community as a way to increase retention and graduation rates for the university’s underrepresented populations — black, Hispanic and Asian.
UCA currently has 11,177 students. About 25% of undergraduates and 16.8% of graduate students are members of minority groups.
Under the program, upperclassmen are trained as mentors to incoming freshmen students, not…
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