“What’s been most helpful are the connections we’ve made, especially moving away from our family and friends,” Fowler said. “I like the diversity and living with people with shared experiences.”
When deciding on a college, Long wanted to stay close to home. “I was overwhelmed getting to know the campus, mentors, professors and the residence hall. The program helped me open up and start my college plan,” she said.
Alizabeth Candler, MSS assistant director, coordinates the Stoutward Bound program, provides support to scholars, assists them in navigating their transition to college, and creates a support structure for them on campus. She also works directly with Stoutward Bound mentors, who serve an important role as peer advisers.
“An integral objective of the program is community building,” Candler said. “Our peer mentors serve as a bridge, connecting our Stoutward Bound scholars to the resources they need through the MSS office. Our diverse staff offers our multicultural students insight into navigating higher education at a predominantly white institution.”
Among this year’s six mentors are Ariana Enciso, an applied social science major from Fond du Lac; Dung (Young) Ly, a business administration major from La Crosse; and Sade Parker, a game design and development-art major from Ladysmith.
Enciso, who also served as a TRIO Student Support Services mentor last year, enjoys supporting other students, whether finding resources for financial aid and scholarships, accessing transcripts or helping them make connections on campus.
Parker agreed, adding that she thinks one of her most important roles as a mentor is making sure Stoutward Bound students don’t make the same mistakes she did – to help them learn from her experiences.
Young hopes students can find a mentor who can help them break down the long-term benefits of their different courses or activities.
He wants Stoutward Bound students to “be unique, creative and innovative in things they’re doing. They need to think outside the box now to stand out in the workforce when they graduate.”
Stoutward Bound is in its 15th year.
MSS, newly located in Merle M. Price Commons, provides African American/Black, Asian American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, biracial and multiethnic students with academic, career, leadership, cultural, and personal support and development. MSS also provides a gathering space and opportunities for students to connect, talk, study and relax.
Students can also connect with multicultural student clubs, like Black Student Union, Native American Student Organization, Hmong Stout Student Organization and Latinos Unidos.