Career Services to Host Mixer for BIPOC and First-Generation Students

In partnership with the ALANA Cultural Center, Men of Color Success Network and First@Colgate, Career Services is planning a mixer aimed to give students of color and first-generation students a chance to connect with one another, learn about Career Services’ resources and hear from experienced students of similar backgrounds and identities.  

The mixer, which will occur in Benton Hall, will offer a combination of social gatherings and information sessions. Student staff from Career Services will guide attendees through the event space, and students will decide where to spend time as they navigate between different stations throughout Benton, according to Teresa Olsen, Assistant Vice President for Career Initiatives. 

“It’s not a formal program where [attendees] have to show up at 4:30 and have to stay all the way till 6,” Olsen said. “They can come in and out and ebb and flow as they would like – as what would be comfortable for them. […] It’s going to be a very free-flowing moment.”

Olsen continued that Career Services plans to create an inviting and informal environment and will have music and food provided by the Royal Indian Grill. Having a sense of comfort is important to students, according to first-year Alysha Mendez.  

“I’m hoping to see students who can relate on that level of not initially knowing what they expected in this environment,” Mendez said, “or [who] may have felt somewhat intimidated in this new chapter in their lives, far away from the comforts of community they felt at home.”

ALANA Cultural Center Director Esther Rosbrook echoed Mendez’s hope for a welcoming environment for those new to Colgate’s campus.

“Any mixers will help chart new paths, build bridges and encourage students to feel that they are enriching the Colgate campus with their diverse backgrounds and rich cultures,” Rosbrook said. “The mixers allow students to have critical conversations that help create spaces where first-generation and BIPOC students can be seen and treated as their whole selves without having to filter or withhold parts of their identity.”

Students will flow between three “hubs” in Benton Hall. Each will have a combined presence of professional and student staff as well as first-generation or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) student volunteers who will share their experiences. One station will focus on the resources offered by Career Services, another will focus on summer experiences available to students and the third will concentrate on networking and connecting with alumni. This third hub will also include the presence of student cultural organizations, including the Black Student Union (BSU).

“We want to make sure that we’re highlighting student leaders [and] student representatives as people who are really strong, really talented, very capable individuals who are making great uses of resources that are here,” Olsen said. “The very first and most important thing that we can do is shine a spotlight on the strength that exists already in this community.”

Olsen expanded on the intention behind the event, commenting on certain aspects of being a BIPOC or first-generation student in a career development setting. 

“When we think about BIPOC students, and we think about [first-generation] students, there are structural components that exist in a professional space… it’s not the same navigation for those students,” Olsen said. 

Through events like the upcoming mixer, Career Services is hoping to highlight the resources available to students facing barriers along with highlighting their strengths.

“All students are very, very welcome to roll in,” Olsen said. “What they might look for and look to get out of that event might look a little bit different depending on where they are.”

Events like these can be anticipated in the future of Career Services. 

“I think good things can come out of this,” Olsen expressed. “This is not just a one-and-done moment for us. This is the start of a new year. It’s a great moment to continue that narrative […] I think you’ll see quite a bit coming up over the next two semesters that will be aligned with really thinking about equity.”

The event will be held on Monday, Sep. 12 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m in Benton Hall.