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Courtesy of Rosanne Wickman
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This Semester with Multicultural Student Affairs

From social and professional events to everyday support, the MSA has a lot in place for students this semester
MSAs goal is to be a space for all student to foster comfort and growth
Renée Ashley
MSA’s goal is to be a space for all student to foster comfort and growth

  An office does not sound like the type of place students would hang out at, have fun, or seek guidance–but that’s not true for UMKC’s Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office.

  According to Lanisha Stevens, MSA’s graduate assistant who has been with the organization since her freshman year, this space made her college experience everything and more. 

“As a black woman coming to a [predominantly white institution] PWI, I wanted to find a safe space for me,” Stevens said. “[They] are the best group of individuals I’ve met since coming to UMKC.” 

  Her co-worker and fellow graduate assistant, Markos Cela, also found MSA while seeking a space to feel comfortable. 

  “MSA was the only space that made me feel safe thousands of miles away from home,” Cela said. “We all work together. You can feel how much they care about all our students and how much work they put in on a daily basis.”

  With a comfortable sitting lounge, the office is home to relaxation and an area for studying and support services. In these spaces, Stevens said she learned the importance of different cultures and new perspectives from being around people she usually would not cross paths with.

  Not only did she find resources and comfort, she grew beyond her comfort zone. Someone who was once shy is now a leader, advocate and mentor for students every day.

  Steven views MSA’s purpose as providing the sense of belonging she felt as a freshman through student gatherings and beyond. These events include kickbacks, family game nights and even some professional workshops. Show Me Success is a workshop addressing common student barriers and how to overcome them.

  “The support doesn’t stop when you leave this office, it’s continuous,” Stevens said. “I feel like sometimes  [MSA’s] work is taken for granted.”  

  The office is also home to two mentoring and networking programs, AACE and Avanzando. In addition, the MSA office houses Emerging Research Scholars, which funds and guides underclassmen students, giving them a head start.

  Cela hopes the entire campus can utilize the MSA at least once. “One time is more than enough for every student to understand what we are about and what we represent. It is so much fun to be a part of the MSA family.”

  The office has an open door policy, available for all students, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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