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UMD and the Morrill Act: Access for Students

Advancing Education for All | First Generation Trailblazer | A Glimpse at Possibilities

One of the hallmarks of the land-grant mission is to provide access to individuals seeking higher education. UMD is committed to providing educational opportunities to people from diverse backgrounds.

Advancing Education for All

Dr. Eversley
"Every child should feel that they can go to college," Eric Eversley said. He speaks from his own experience. He worked hard at Minneapolis's Central High School, earning an Honors Diploma, and ranking in the top ten students in his class. Nevertheless, he didn't receive any information on planning for college.

"I never experienced college counseling in my high school," he said. But his mother did talk about it. "She talked to me about college long before I got to high school. I knew I would go, but I thought I would have to get a job and take night classes." It was his high school sports career that opened up the opportunity to attend college full-time.

Because of his stellar high school career in football, basketball, and track, over a dozen schools including UMD recruited Eversley, offering him financial support for college. He earned a bachelor of science degree in history (cum laude) from UMD (1968). He then went on to earn a master's degree in economics from the University of Colorado (1970) and a doctorate in educational administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (1976). "The strong foundation in high quality academic work I gained at UMD leveraged into successful graduate work and two advanced degrees," he said.

Eversley's lifetime commitment to education has taken him to diverse settings, from inner city to suburban schools, from schools with largely white student populations to schools with predominately black and Latino/Hispanic enrollments. Before retiring in 2009, he served 41 years as a professional educator: as a high school teacher (history and economics), football coach, middle school principal, high school principal, superintendent of schools, and district superintendent/CEO.

For years, Eversley has been a part of the Early College Awareness Program which strives to reach young students and their parents in geographic areas with traditionally low rates of higher education attendance and inform them about college. "It's important that students not start their journey to college too late," he said. "The program stresses family financial planning, students earning strong GPAs, and taking challenging, advanced-level courses in high school. It's all about access and readiness," he stated.

Eversley remains active at UMD. He joined the UMD Alumni Board of Directors in 2010 and assists with events and outreach. In 2005, he was inducted into the UMD Hall of Fame for his football and track career.
Photo: Dr. Eric L. Eversley ('68) as a student at UMD.

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First Generation Trailblazer

Jean-Baptiste Quillien

When Thelmy Maldonado toured UMD's Multicultural Center, "That was it," she said. Housed in the Office of Cultural Diversity, the Multicultural Center provides many students with a firm foundation. "I'm there before classes and after classes. It's nice to be able to relate to people who look like you, who are going through some of the same things. We have a common goal to achieve things."

As the first person in her family to attend college, Maldonado is a trailblazer. She noted that it was her family's support that helped her get to college. "My dad always pushed me to never settle for less than my best," she said. "My parents want the success for us that they never had." She believes anything is possible "if you set your mind to it. Work hard, follow your dreams."

Photo: Thelmy Maldonado is a sophomore majoring in psychology.

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A Glimpse at Possibilities

One of UMD's fundamental goals is to create a diverse and inclusive campus. Each year, various departments and programs reach out and connect with bright, motivated minority and American Indian students from around the state to introduce them to the UMD campus.

UMD's Office of Cultural Diversity has worked with the St. Paul public school system's Multicultural Excellence Program since 1999. UMD pays for a bus and provides lunch. In addition to a campus tour, a panel presentation is held in which current UMD students of color talk about their experiences and answer questions from the young visitors. "It's been very successful," said Office of Cultural Diversity Director Susana Pelayo-Woodward. "This year, we've admitted 20 students from the Multicultural Excellence Program."

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Last modified on 09/20/12 10:12 AM
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