What words come to mind when you think of the community at California Lutheran University? Is diverse one of them? Because according to the Ventura County Star “half of the incoming freshmen are minority students- up from 42 percent at the start of last school year. One-third [of students] are the first in their families to go to college.”
Cal Lutheran has always prided itself in being a welcoming community for future leaders.
“The mission of the University is to educate leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice,” according to the university’s website.
With a mission to educate leaders for a global society, it is obvious that the university should cater to a demographic of diverse students from different backgrounds.
Michael Elgarico, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Cal Lutheran said the university has always done a good job in welcoming diverse students.
According to Elgarico, Cal Lutheran’s incoming class includes a diverse group of students from the Latino/Hispanic, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities.
“ The university [Cal Lutheran] as a whole has always been rooted in being an inclusive institution that likes to welcome individuals from a range of backgrounds, faiths, demographic and cultural ethnic identities. I think this past year specifically, in terms of students coming from underrepresented groups, it was wonderful to see that increase,” Elgarico said.
According to Elgarico, Cal Lutheran has always worked to create a diverse environment.
But how is an environment like this created in the first place? Are more minority students accepted over non-minority students?
According to Elgarico, it’s not about accepting certain students over others based on their ethnic background, but about reaching out to a diverse group of students.
“You cast a wide net. We have a large Latino/Hispanic community here in Ventura County and in Southern California in general we have a large Asian Pacific Islander community as well. Sometimes as a smaller university, California Lutheran University might not resonate. It’s not a UCLA or a USC. In our process what we’re trying to do is reach out to students and say “Hey! We’re an option too.” I think that sometimes it’s very deliberate that we’re reaching out to certain communities, but it’s not like we’re taking away from any other outreach,” Elgarico said.
Andres Elvira is a first-year student coming from a Hispanic/Latino background. Having received brochures in the mail from Cal Lutheran, Elvira experienced the outreach that Elgarico referred to.
“I found out about Cal Lutheran through mail the school kept sending me throughout high school. I was aware that the school had a good reputation, so I knew that it was one of the schools I wanted to apply to in my senior year of high school,” Elvira said.
Elvira had no trouble fitting in on campus, immediately being selected to be a part of the 2014-15 ASCLUG Programs Board. Elvira works alongside other student leaders to plan events for student life throughout the school year.
Elizabeth Montero transferred to Cal Lutheran this year and is also of Hispanic/Latina descent. Although she is technically considered to be a part of a minority group, Montero doesn’t feel like her ethnicity makes a difference in her college experience.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’m in a minority. I don’t think race has anything to do with how people perceive you here,” Montero said of the community at Cal Lutheran.
Elgarico believes diversity is more than just having minorities on campus.
“Diversity means that there is a collective set of perspectives that aren’t necessarily all the same, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a collective set of experiences and lenses that really helps individuals to engage and I think that’s what’s really important,” Elgarico said.
Published October 1, 2014