Building a Sense of Belonging: Mitty’s DEI Initiative Extends to Incoming Students of Color

The Welcome Students of Color Meet and Greet Reception fosters an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for the incoming class.


Art Credit: Emily Vu

As the Class of 2027 starts to explore campus, Mitty extends the DEI initiative to incoming students at the Students of Color Meet & Greet Reception, warmly inviting them to the community. This annual event, first organized over 16 years ago, provides an inviting atmosphere for arriving freshmen who identify as black or LatinX to get acquainted with other parents and students, ask questions about extracurricular activities, and receive guidance from current students.

The event is packed with eager students and parents alike, wanting to learn about the culture and opportunities at Mitty. At the heart of the event is the Q&A session that provides a practical and meaningful way for current and new students to engage in active conversation. Mrs. Vargas, director of the D.E.I initiative, is the main speaker at the event and remarks that the Q&A is “very much a dialogue. For example, if you are the first person in your family to be attending high school, it can be overwhelming for both students and parents.” Incoming students taking part in the Q&A can seek advice from people involved in sports, performing arts, or other extracurricular activities. Accompanying the Q&A is an ice-breaker, creating familiarity while also cultivating an open environment of laughter and conversation.

In order to create a more equitable environment and space, we understand that the outreach we must do for our Black and Latino students is going to look different.

— Mrs. Patsy Vargas

Students, parents, and faculty were involved in both preparing for the reception and leading it once the time came. Primarily, students from the Black Student Union and the LatinX Student Union volunteer to make the event a success. This joint collaboration provides enough students to answer questions on a wide range of topics; a panel of parents also were in attendance to help share their unique experience of being a black or LatinX parent in the Mitty community.

Beyond its practical aspects, the Students of Color Meet & Greet Reception eases the feelings of anxiety about high school that incoming freshmen may have. By providing a face-to-face forum for communication—rather than through email on a computer—students feel more comfortable and connected with their new community.

While other nights similar to this one have been held, such as Freshmen Welcome Night, the reception offers a more personalized experience and creates a platform for support for families who identify as black or LatinX. Mrs. Vargas explains, “In order to create a more equitable environment and space, we understand that the outreach we must do for our Black and Latino students is going to look different.” The main goal of a reception is to foster a sense of belonging from the moment a student enters campus.

The Welcome Students of Color Reception is another way D.E.I works on furthering its goal, addressing the difficulties that students of color face in the transition to high school. Through offering encouragement and the opportunity for connections, the reception promotes a sense of belonging. Ms. Vargas concludes: “The Welcome Students of Color Meet & Greet is one of my favorite events. The energy and success of the evening are all due to the dedication of BSU and LSU students.”