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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

Enrollment numbers increase from last year for Umoja program

Sharmarke Holif
Umoja Diop Student Personnel Assistant Malik Amos (far right) and three students study in the Umoja center. The center is located at L-215 on the first floor of the library and provides community to African American and other students.

The Umoja Diop Scholars program saw a boost in enrollment by 28.5% from fall 2022 to fall 2023.

IT Business and Tech Analyst at Cosumnes River College Paul Meinz said the number of students enrolled in the Umoja program increased by 12, from 43 last fall to 54 this fall.

Umoja is a Kiswahili word meaning unity. Kiswahili is an African language mainly found in Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique.

Umoja Diop Scholars is an international organization which acts as a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of all students with a focus on African American students according to the Umoja Community website.

Umoja Diop Scholars Counselor Dr. Teresa Aldredge said that the bump in enrollment is due to the end of the pandemic as people wanted to come back to the campus.

“This fall we made it so that everything is gonna be in person. To me, that’s when we saw the jump in numbers,” Aldredge said. “The boost came from students wanting to be back together in a community. I heard from students who talked about how they were not engaged with what they were learning, since they could do just something else while in an online class and not pay attention.”

Umoja is an international organization which focuses on Black student success. They teach about the Black experience in the United States and beyond, said Interim Dean of English and Language Studies Emmanuel Sigauke.

“The content Umoja gives is open to anyone interested and not just Black students. Our curriculum is focused on the Black experience inside and outside of the United States, since we also examine Africa and the Caribbean,” Sigauke said. “Africa is often portrayed as a country of extreme poverty and trouble, but it is not a country. It’s a continent. People will learn that Africa is 54 countries, each with their own unique cultures.”

Umoja Diop Student Personnel Assistant Malik Amos said that he believes the hike in enrollment was caused by a new strategy: having an enrollment day.

“I feel really good about it. It’s been a journey trying to get the enrollment numbers up,” Amos said. “But we tried a new strategy this year with our enrollment day. We would send out emails, but that was not really working. This semester we ended up sending out postcards to all of the Black students on campus to tell them about the Umoja Program.”

Sigauke said that online classes were harmful to the Umoja program, as it underlined the issue of access to the same resources as others.

“COVID-19 created a situation where inequities became very pronounced,” Sigauke said. “Suddenly someone has to work remotely, but what if they don’t have the internet? What if they don’t have a computer available?”

Nineteen-year-old undecided major Hannah Harper said that she believes Umoja is very important due to how it provided a safe space to do activities.

“If you want to study, hang out with friends or pick up a snack then you can also just do that,” Harper said. “There are also people like counselors who will ensure that you are supported and help you out if you are having trouble at school.”

Nineteen-year-old psychology major and Umoja Student Leader Marquis Hardman said that the enrollment boost provides a sense of satisfaction.

“I feel like my hard work has paid off because I did spend a lot of time calling each and every student I could find to recruit them,” Hardman said. “The increase really does inspire me and I hope inspires more people to join too.”

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About the Contributor
Sharmarke Holif
Sharmarke Holif, Staff Writer
Sharmarke Holif is a staff writer for the Connection newspaper. He joined the Connection because he wanted to gain experience in journalism. He wants to transfer and become an investigative journalist. He loves fantasy, magic and J.R.R. Tolkien books.

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  • AnonymousOct 26, 2023 at 10:44 am

    Congrats on your story!