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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Designing a Future

Growing up in Chicago, Luis Rogel ’21 marveled at the towering buildings in the city. “It always amazed me that these buildings could be so tall and not fall over,” he said. This childhood curiosity and his aptitude for math and science led him to pursue a career in engineering.

“I really want to get into civil engineering design because design is what fascinates me about engineering,” he said.

As a senior at the UD, Rogel has focused on acquiring his first job out of school and was hoping to find something that tapped into this passion for design. He found just that, securing an entry-level job as a civil engineering designer at DLZ Corporation in Munster, Indiana.

“A lot of the other jobs I applied for were construction based, so this job was at the top of my radar,” Rogel said. “And it’s 20 minutes away from my house in Chicago. It’s really nice because I’ll be able to live at home and put some money in my bank account.”

Upon extending their job offer, his future employer gave him a few reasons for their choice. “They recognized the passion I had for engineering. They also said that UD’s academic curriculum is so much better than some of the curriculum from other schools from which they’ve hired students. In addition, they emphasized how confident I was,” he said.

When asked how he developed such confidence, Rogel said, “I would attribute a lot of it to my involvement with MEC. They’ve given me opportunities to become a leader and tools to better myself.”

A Safe Space

MEC, or the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, ended up being a lifeline for Rogel as he adjusted to life at UD. “I’m Mexican and in my neighborhood at home, it’s like 90 to 95% Hispanic. In my high school, it was 30% Hispanic. When I came to UD and looked around in my engineering classes, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me,” Rogel said. “It made me feel like I didn’t belong here.”

Rogel’s experience is common for multiethnic/multicultural students in a predominantly white university. MEC is designed to help with that though, giving these students a safe space where they can connect with other students with similar experiences.

This safe space drew Rogel in and led to enormous opportunities for him. “My sophomore year, I became an Academic Success Ambassador in MEC. It made me feel like I could succeed as a leader, which is something I really didn’t believe about myself at the time,” he said.

He thrived in the role and a year later embraced another MEC leadership opportunity, accepting his current position as a Student Engagement Assistant, a role co-sponsored by MEC and Enrollment Management. “Now I mentor and serve as a role model for multicultural students.”

Donor Impact in MEC

Beyond the leadership opportunities, MEC provides an array of support for multicultural students. “Students have access to academic and personal resources, as well as cultural and social with all of the clubs and Greek life under the MEC umbrella. We provide a lot of tools for students to have the best experience possible at UD,” said Rogel.

MEC has University support for these resources, but donor support is also a key ingredient in the Center’s impact and mission. And, on our annual One Day, One Dayton this April 14, donors can have an even greater impact, with MEC gifts receiving a matching gift donation from an anonymous donor.

Gifts allocated to MEC go directly to students through the MEC Experiential Learning Fund, which provides an avenue for MEC students to engage in learning opportunities they might not otherwise be able to afford or were unforeseen.

Carlos Stewart, sr. associate director of development, diversity and access initiatives, speaks to the value of the fund. “That fund is tremendous for students. They basically write an essay when they apply, explaining their need. They might have study-abroad fees, an unpaid internship opportunity, an opportunity to attend a conference or any number of things,” he said.

Beyond financial need, they must demonstrate a commitment to leadership and service to MEC and the UD community, as well as academic excellence.

“It’s not an endowed fund, so it can certainly go away. Donor support is absolutely vital to providing these opportunities to students,” Stewart said.

Universitywide Reach

Although MEC serves an ever-growing multiethnic population at UD — the current student body is the most diverse in school history — it also engages the entire student body through educational outreach and cultural heritage programming.

“MEC is focused on talking to all students about diversity, power and privilege, as well as how to have difficult conversations around those topics,” Stewart said.

Rogel expanded upon Stewart’s statement. “Self-growth is one of the most important things in college, and when students are educated about different backgrounds, cultures and experiences, they grow as a person,’ he said. “The more educated we can be about what’s in the world, the more prepared we will be when we leave the University.”

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