March 21, 2018

Ninety seven high school students from throughout northwest Iowa attended the GRIT (Getting Real Together) Multicultural Youth Conference on the campus of Buena Vista University March 9.  

The conference, which was coordinated through a partnership between BVU and Iowa State University and Extension and Outreach, was established in 2017 to encourage youth from underrepresented populations to visit and take part in activities on a real college campus.

“The overarching goal of the day was to give students a taste of what college life is like, so that they feel inspired to continue their education after high school,” said Ebony King, director of multicultural engagement at BVU.

The GRIT Conference is also intended to encourage participants to advance leadership skills and further educational interests. To bolster leadership development, students took part in a number of team-building exercises that emphasized the need to work collaboratively to solve problems creatively and strategically. 

“My ultimate hope is that students walked away from the conference with a newfound sense of excitement and confidence in their futures.”

Ebony King

In addition, students were placed in educational “tracks,” which involved completing hands-on projects in college classrooms with BVU professors. The tracks included biology/pre-med, athletic training, theatre, graphic design, business, technology/computer science, and physical science.  

Attendees also had the chance to interact with BVU students throughout the day by having lunch with them, touring campus, and attending a cultural fair hosted by BVU’s multicultural student organizations.   

“My ultimate hope is that students walked away from the conference with a newfound sense of excitement and confidence in their futures,” added King. “We want area youth to know that the options are endless and that they are capable and worthy of earning a college degree.”  

Other activities included students presenting on their experiences throughout the day, and a keynote address by Pedro Ruiz. Ruiz serves as the executive director of La Unidad, a youth development program that aims to inspire unity, creativity, and grit through the game of soccer.