For decades, Hamilton’s Admission Office Diversity Overnight Program has welcomed prospective students to the Hill to provide them with an opportunity to visit campus, attend classes, and experience life as a Hamilton student. On Sept. 17, 41 students from around the country arrived for the first of this year’s two three-day programs.
Assistant Dean of Admission and Coordinator of Diversity Recruitment Mia Rogers organized the September and October programs.
“We want to make sure that students who don’t have an opportunity to visit campus do have that chance because it’s such an integral part of the college application process, being able to visit a campus, see what that community is like, see if it’s a place where you would be happy, before making the decision to apply,” Rogers said.
The selection process for the overnight program prioritizes students from ethnically diverse backgrounds as well as first-generation college students and those from families with limited financial resources. Transportation, lodging, and meal costs are covered for those accepted to the program.
“I think the fact that we have this program shows that diversity is something Hamilton, as an institution, cares about,” Rogers said, adding that the program does things to bridge the gap between students who have access to higher education and those who do not.
New Dean of Admission Peaches Valdes not only officially welcomed the prospective students with a talk on campus, but also picked them up from the Syracuse airport beforehand.
“Because it is my first big event here at the college, I wanted to get a sense of the students we were bringing to campus,” Valdes said. She said she enjoyed that interaction “because it’s a time when they’re all relaxed, in a way. They’re not on campus yet so they feel comfortable talking to you. I’ve always been about developing relationships with students and making sure they feel comfortable, that they have a positive experience,” Valdes said.
Several of last year’s diversity overnight attendees are now Hamilton students. Maria Valencia ’21 attended the October program last year before choosing Hamilton.
I hope [the prospective students] have that inkling, that gut reaction, that visceral feeling that Hamilton is a place they could call home, that they will be challenged academically and personally… and find that power and confidence that we clearly saw in their applications.
“We got a raw look at what it’s like being a Hamilton student through talking to the current students and exploring the campus,” Valencia said. “I’m from Arizona, so the thought of being across the country was hard, but I felt like the friendly environment of Hamilton mended that distance, that gap.”
Last weekend, she volunteered as a leader for a scavenger hunt activity during the program and also hosted a prospective student.
“When I attended my diversity overnight, my host opened up and offered a real sense of what Hamilton was like, so I wanted to be that person for these students. It’s one thing to take a virtual tour, but it’s another to talk to an actual Hamilton student,” Valencia said. “It was so nice to get to know the girl I hosted because I could almost see myself in her, since that was me last year.”
The program set up several informational sessions and activities for the prospective students, such as learning about financial aid, doing an interview with a senior intern, and meeting current students at a music and coffee social. This year the prospective students ate lunch with the admissions officer who will be reading their college application.
“We want them to know that we are human beings who care about and want to get to know them,” Rogers said.
The second Diversity Overnight Program will take place Oct. 29-31.
“I hope [the prospective students] have that inkling, that gut reaction, that visceral feeling that Hamilton is a place they could call home, that they will be challenged academically and personally… and find that power and confidence that we clearly saw in their applications,” said Valdes.