As an undergraduate student, Lauren Wilson, a native of Crossett, Arkansas, said the time she spent at her university’s multicultural center made a huge impact on her life.
“When I was an undergrad, our multicultural center played a huge role in my experience,” Wilson said. “I loved being able to go there and hang out with my friends and with faculty and staff members and form those bonds that have lasted over 10 years now.”
As the new assistant director of the Multicultural Center, Wilson is using her inspiration as an undergrad and her love of helping students to recreate her experience for the students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“I want to provide them with a safe place and pair them with people who can provide resources and serve as mentors, not just while they are in college, but beyond that,” Wilson said. “My mentors were really helpful in facing all the ups and downs that brought me from an undergrad to this point.”
In her role, Wilson is responsible for implementing cultural programming for Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. She also coordinates several programs designed to help students succeed.
TheStudent Affairs Diversity Initiatives include the African American Male Initiative, African American Female Initiative, and the Hispanic/Latinx Initiative. The programs are designed to empower, support, and assist students in their college careers.
TheSummer Bridge Academy is a three-week residential program that prepares incoming freshmen for college by eliminating the need to take remedial math and English courses.
TheTrojan L.E.A.D. program is designed to prepare first and second year students of color for leadership in the UA Little Rock community.
Wilson has implemented a new monthly event, First Fridays at MC, where students meet the first Friday of every month to talk about what’s going on in their lives, plan new events for the Multicultural Center, and learn new skills. During February’s First Friday at the MC, students learned how to become a residential assistant.
“They are virtual for now,” Wilson said. “In the future, students can come to the Multicultural Center to decompress and see if there is anything that we can do to help them.”
After her graduation from the University of Arkansas, Wilson became a substitute teacher and had a daughter, Gabriela. She later went on to teach English at Warren High School for three years before joining UA Little Rock as a student support and training specialist at Ottenheimer Library, where she taught students about the technology and resources available in the library.
While pursuing her master’s degree in higher education, Wilson worked as a graduate assistant in the Multicultural Center. After her graduation during the fall 2020 semester, Wilson was promoted to the assistant director of the Multicultural Center.
“It took a lot to get here, but I’m pretty happy where I ended up,” Wilson said.
As Wilson is currently implementing events to celebrate Black History Month, she thinks it’s important that diverse history is celebrated all year round.
“Black history is American history,” Wilson said. “When I was in high school, there was Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Anything that wasn’t white male history wasn’t integrated into larger history classes. Why don’t we celebrate it more and make sure it is celebrated every day as a part of our normal goings on? I wish everyone could see it that way.”