Shepherd University's Multicultural Leadership Team engages the college through awareness, advocacy and action for social change. Photo courtesy

Students Develop Cultural Competency though Multicultural Leadership Team

College is a time when students of all backgrounds come together to learn. Not only are they working towards meeting the educational requirements for a degree and future career, they are also learning social skills which can benefit them in all aspects of their lives.

The Multicultural Leadership Team (MLT) scholarship is one such opportunity Shepherd University offers for students who want to develop cultural competency among their peers.

This year is the 30th anniversary of MLT, which according to the Shepherd University website, began in 1991 “to build and maintain an inclusive campus community that fosters respect and appreciation for people of all social identities and backgrounds.”

Ben Pigott, the Graduate Assistant of MLT, believes that college can be a great opportunity for young adults to broaden their perspectives. “Sometimes these four years of college (and especially their first year) might be the first time they are truly interacting with people that come from different backgrounds, different places, look different, and have different experiences. Being able to develop that and not have students shy away from having conversations about differences, I think is really important.”

Students in MLT attend a variety of activities and lectures that focus on culture and how to advocate for cultural groups that experience discrimination. Some of the events this semester have been the Rams Rally for Change, The Clothesline Project (which brings awareness to sexual assault and abuse), the Rangoli Project, a discussion led by the Black Student Union panel, and a lecture about healthy masculinity.

“We have attended many events together with various topics that extended my knowledge of the Multicultural Leadership Team,” said Breanna, a current MLT member.

In addition to attending events, students on the team complete 90 hours of community service (45 hours per semester) and give two presentations each year. These activities help students to recognize disparities in their community and world, and to develop the leadership skills needed to make positive change. Being a good leader means being able to work with diverse people and listening and learning from their perspectives.

“MLT has really helped me expand my willingness to see other people’s perspectives in a different light. I get to see how people’s experiences kind of shapes their ideologies and how those experiences impact their lives today and in the possible future,” said Tina A., a current MLT member.

Students interested in MLT must apply, go through an interview process, participate in weekly two-hour MLT seminars, complete 45 hours of community service each fall and spring semester, assist in developing educational programs, attend the Multicultural Leadership Team Retreat in the fall, and participate in at least 4 multicultural and social justice events on or off campus.

“I recommend it to others because it’s a good way to learn different social issues. They can also meet people from different backgrounds and widen their horizons,” said Bolu, a current MLT member.

The scholarship amount is determined by the financial needs of the student. Students interested in applying for the Multicultural Leadership Team (MLT) scholarship can find the application on RamPulse. The application for next year (2022 to 2023) will be made available in December.

“I think other students should consider joining the team because it is such a great way to not only meet other people, but also learn more about what we can do to help improve social justice on campus,” said Kady, a current MLT member.

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