OFFICE OF
Undergraduate
Admission

Community and Diversity

One of the best parts about coming to college is living on campus—in fact, the simple act of moving into your dorm room could function as a class in itself. Once you’ve unpacked your bags and hung up your pictures, the real learning begins—a slow accumulation of knowledge that you might barely register. It starts as little things; learning about a Hindu festival, finding out what kosher actually means, meeting someone from your home city who’s had completely different experience in the same place that you grew up. These are the bits of knowledge that, over time, can truly transform your worldview—and it’s not something we can teach you in a classroom. It’s something that comes from the students you meet, the experiences you share, and the openness of your own mindset.

At Emory, diversity is multidimensional. We pride ourselves on the mixture of people, beliefs, values, and social circles that compose our campus communities. To us, a diverse community is composed not only of different ethnicities, races, and religions, but of different social backgrounds, locations, and life experiences as well. Learn more about our diverse community by reading the profiles below—current students share what diversity means to them, and how they’ve found their fit with Emory.

  • Brandon Ospina >>
    Greenville, SC
  • Tonni Blount >>
    Bellevue, NE
  • Jhenelle Elder >>
    Trinidad and Tobago

  • Josh Bergeleen >>
    Austin, TX
  • Pritika Gupta >>
    Mumbai, India
  • Mario Costa >>
    Guayaquil, Ecuador

Brandon Ospina, Emory College Class of 2015

Greenville, South Carolina
Finance and Accounting (B.B.A.)

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

Diversidad, para mi, incluye todo lo que usamos para describir quiénes somos. Sorry, I just wanted to demonstrate some of my diversity. Diversity, to me, encompasses everything that defines us. We use it to grow, learn, and understand. Diversity is present everywhere. At Emory we are consciously aware of its presence; we discuss the diverse population and opinions present on campus, and we incorporate them into our studies, no matter what they may be. This is how diversity fits into Emory. We apply Emory’s founding principles of scholarly inquiry and ethical engagement to learn from and consider every aspect of our, Emory’s, diversity.

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

The first time I came to Emory was in sixth grade on a field trip to visit the Carlos Museum. What I remembered from that trip was a bunch of mummies and about five Tibetan Monks teaching us the art of meditation. Two very new experiences that for a middle school student was just weird. In my mind, Emory was a quirky place. The second time I came to Emory was during my senior year of high school for the Barkley Forum speech and debate tournament. I was on campus for three days, and met many students during my time on campus. After leaving Emory a second time, my definition of Emory changed. Instead of a quirky college campus, it was a supportive and welcoming community that embraced its quirkiness and encouraged others to do the same. At that moment, I knew Emory was the place for me because it supported a community that was open and accepting of students’ passions and diversity. I knew Emory would be the place where I found my passion and cemented my identity. También puedo practicar mi español.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

Along with building community, Emory provides opportunities for increasing self-awareness and learning about who we are as a person. Emory’s community encouraged me to gain confidence, engage with people of different backgrounds, and become more self-aware of who I am. Now I can walk into an interview and talk about myself comfortably, or easily network with people of many different backgrounds. I have the basic skills necessary to pursue my career in business and it is all thanks to the diverse community I have interacted with for the past two years.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

The Emory community is definitely very open to the diversity on campus and supports it through open dialogue. Emory prides itself in ethical engagement and scholarly inquiry, which are fundamental in supporting the dialogues we have about diversity on campus. But supporting diversity is not enough; Emory celebrates it as well. A great example of the way Emory celebrates its diversity is through the many cultural student organizations on campus and the events they have throughout the year. One of my favorites is Hispanic heritage month (thank you Latino Student Organization) simply because there is an entire week dedicated to celebrating a part of my culture as well as eating some delicious food that reminds me of home. Who doesn’t love a good empanada or a nice slice of torta de tres leches?

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

Although choosing just one event is extraordinarily difficult, Emory’s College Council recently hosted an event called “Culture Shock” that definitely hit home and opened my eyes to the true diversity present at Emory. Although culture and ethnicity, one facet of diversity, was the focus of the event, I think it really helped students consider the diversity present on the Emory campus and consciously think about the way we interact with what we personally consider different. Maulik Pancholy was the keynote speaker and chronicled his cultural experiences in Hollywood. The night was topped off with delicious cultural foods sampling which definitely made this event a favorite for many college students.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

My piece of advice would be the cliché phrase, “don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.” This is part of the reason why the picture of me is with a snake. I may be smiling on the outside, but I was definitely freaking out on the inside. Holding a snake is similar to the feelings a person may get when exploring the diversity on campus simply because it may be something they never experienced before. Generally, I start out feeling intimidated, then I gather up the courage to explore, then I feel anxious and out of place, but I know afterwards I feel a sense of accomplishment because I experienced or learned something new. It is important to keep these emotions in mind because it helps in keeping an open mind and building the courage to go out and explore Emory’s diversity.

List of Extracurricular Activities

Admission Fellow, Project SHINE, ESA, Tour Guide, Orientation Leader

Tonni Blount, Emory College Class of 2014

Bellevue, Nebraska
Biology (B.S.) and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (B.A.)

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

Very simply put, diversity is difference. The beauty of such as simple definition is that it allows us all to see the diversity within ourselves and each other. By not making any one standard by which to compare, all can be acknowledged as diverse no matter what race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, or class. Emory University fosters diversity by creating spaces where these different vectors of identification can be honestly and respectfully discussed.

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

I knew that I would fit in at Emory from the first time that I stepped onto the campus. Fitting in for me did not mean that I would be like everyone else. It meant that I could be who I wanted to be and feel totally comfortable with it. It meant that I could be a square peg and not even care about the shape of the hole. Emory is quirky enough that there really is a place for everyone.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

I have definitely grown through my participation in Emory’s diverse community. From studying abroad at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, to tutoring at local elementary schools, to striving to foster and encourage a sense of community for people of color on Emory’s campus, I have gained insight into the value of individual’s experiences. I am now able to look at the world through a much more integrated and nuanced lens with the understanding that multiple perspectives lead to a stronger community.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

Students are the heart of diversity at Emory. We all come from significantly different backgrounds. However, rather than seeing difference as something to fear, we support each other and honor both our similarities and differences. As Emory students, we are eager to learn as much about every subject, and for a majority of the students that I have encountered, culture is not an exception to this rule. By being open to learning about the perspectives of our peers, we work towards breaking down barriers and create a community that celebrates diversity.

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

I don’t know if it is possible to choose between State of Race, Best in Show, and Issues Troupe. All of these programs do an amazing job of putting diversity at the forefront in such distinct ways. I love going to these events, because they spark great conversations about both our successes and failures surrounding creating an environment that fosters and cherishes diversity.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

I would tell freshmen to step out of their comfort zone and expand their horizons. I have never met someone who has said that they regret taking a chance. Therefore, never be afraid to try something new, whether it’s a club, a class, or a spontaneous conversation that explores some aspect of diversity. Everything you do has the potential of broadening your perspective, if you so let it.

List of Extracurricular Activities

Research Assistant Rollins School of Public Health Project N-Liten, President of NAACP, Emory Club Soccer President, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity–Delta Kappa Chapter, Sexual Assault Peer Advocates (SAPA), Career Center Receptionist

Jhenelle Elder, Oxford College Class of 2015, Emory College Class of 2017

San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago
Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

Diversity simply means variety, a variety of people coming together in a common place. Coming from a diverse country, I thought that Emory would be similar in exposing me to people of different cultures, ethnicity, religions, and of course other international countries. Emory reiterated the diversity among other nations, but also showed me that a large amount of diversity exists within the United States. Each individual has different experiences in life that Emory University allows us to share as a community.

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

I was one of those rare students who chose Oxford and Emory without ever visiting. I first found out about them while researching colleges with my brother. The fact that Emory University focused so much on building a tight-knit community, and that a significant percentage of that community was also international, instantly made me feel like I would fit in. I felt like I would definitely have a place in that community too.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

I have certainly grown through my experiences here at Oxford College, where diversity exists all around me. I have become an even more open-minded person and learned to value others' opinions and experiences. It’s made me appreciate and have pride in how different I am from others whilst fostering my interest in others' differences.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

The entire community really makes an effort to celebrate and support diversity in a number of ways. One such way is by hosting various events such as Unity Week here at Oxford, part of Emory's Unity Month. Unity Month is hosted by the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services and is specifically geared towards celebrating individuality, diversity, and culture. During Unity Week, numerous student groups and associations such as the Muslim Student Association, Oxford Pride, International Student Programs, and Black Student Alliance host events based on different topics to promote unity among Emory's diverse community.

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

Even though it is quite difficult to just choose one, I would say my favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus was Diwali, hosted by the Hindu Student Association during Unity Week. I enjoyed comparing and contrasting Diwali to the same celebration we have back home, which we call Divali.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

One piece of advice I would give to incoming freshman is to be receptive to everything, especially new experiences. In order to explore diversity on campus you must allow yourself to become immersed in it and keep an open mind. By doing this you will discover so much more about yourself and the differences and similarities others have with you.

List of Extracurricular Activities

Oxford Fellowship, Drama Guild, SGA Residential Life Committee, International Admission Leadership Group, Black Student Alliance, African Caribbean Students Union

Josh Bergeleen, Emory College Class of 2014

Austin, Texas
Strategy & Management Consulting (B.B.A.) and Political Science (B.A.)

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

Diversity is a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and experiences. I think that before coming to Emory, my definition of diversity was very similar to what we are exposed to during the college application process; it was a series of little boxes that I either checked or left blank. Emory talks about diversity in a way that much more accurately reflects real life; "diversity" is merely an acknowledgement, and celebration, of our differences. Being exposed to people who think differently, speak other languages, and pursue different passions has really caused me to reflect on how I view the world and view my place in it.

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

Emory had my attention from the very first piece of mail it sent me. Other schools that I was looking at were always talking about their academic excellence and how the prestige of going to "X" School. This was radically different from the way Emory presented itself. Emory's first communication that they sent me was "8 Reasons Why Emory", number 1 was this amazing sense of community, number 2 was our campus' commitment to volunteer work and all the way down at number 8 was something along the lines of what a great school Emory was academically. This fell very much in line with what I wanted, an academically rigorous institution that gave you opportunities to be a member of a community, as well as a scholar.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

Overall I think being exposed to the diverse and engaged community that we have here at Emory has really caused me to broaden my perspective and really make me think about how I view the world. Emory has given me such an amazing opportunity to grow and explore both the world at large and my own identities.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

Emory as a community celebrates and supports diversity in many ways, from our plethora of student offices including: the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services, the Office of LGBT Life, the Office of Religious Life, the Center for Women, as well as all of our student groups (including: Emory Pride, the Black Student Alliance, Feminists in Action, Indian Culture Exchange, Korean Undergraduate Student Association, Hindu Student Association, Latino Student Organization, and countless others).

Most importantly though, these offices and clubs are symptomatic (not causal) of the daily celebration of diversity that happens in our student body. We are a group of individuals ever striving to grow and develop as leaders, as scholars, and as members of a global community, which leads to a constant community of affirmation and support of others who inevitably will be different from you.

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

I think my favorite diversity-themed celebration would be our campus wide drag show. Our annual drag show brings together different groups of students, staff members, and graduate students to compete for prizes. This year there were about 100 community members that performed in drag and there were over 700 people that showed up to watch the show. I love the drag show because it raises a significant amount of money for charity, while simultaneously raising awareness about the history and importance of drag as a community and serving to start a conversation on gender, both on campus and at society in large.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

Explore as much as possible. There are so many amazing ways to explore different identities around campus that I strongly encourage you to explore as many as possible, both so that you are better able to understand yourself, and so that you are able to redefine how you personally think about "diversity."

List of Extracurricular Activities

Emory Pride, Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, Orientation, Emory Student Ambassadors, Sexual Assault Peer Advocates

Pritika Gupta, Emory College Class of 2014

Mumbai, India
Economics (B.A.) and History (B.A.)

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

To me, diversity is looking around you and realizing that the most powerful common factor between you and everyone else is that you go to Emory. If anything, diversity is an appreciation of differences in culture, ethnicity, religion and political thought—and that's exactly why it fits into Emory's so community so well. Everyone here is incredibly academically motivated and involved in student life but they are still inquisitive about the people around them - not just at a superficial level. People at Emory want to know where you're from and what you think.

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

I actually heard of Emory from my neighbor's daughter who went to Law School here and I distinctly remember her describing Emory as "somewhere where physics majors do Model UN." I guess the reason that caught my attention so much was because I spent my freshmen year as a Physics major and was always involved in Model UN. Once I got to college my freshmen year roommate was someone who played a big role in making me feel like Emory had exactly the kind of people and environment I would enjoy. We're still best friends and even though we're both super busy we make time to discuss what’s happening in our respective organizations.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

I think I've become more aware over the years. Diversity in Emory's campus takes on a pretty special meaning after a while. It’s not just about the differences you see at face value, it’s about everything: political views, tastes in music, senses of humor, different ambitions and so much more. I really think diverse communities make you challenge yourself more and not just settle for the smaller victories.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

Emory does an exceptional job of celebrating diversity, whether it’s through drag shows, College Council events, the office of International Student Life, Office of LGBTQ. Here, students, administration and faculty create an environment where your essential identity is of utmost importance and needn't ever be compromised.

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

Maybe I'm biased, but I would have to say that it’s College Council's Culture Shock. This was Culture Shock's first year and it’s exciting to know that it’s going to be continued each year. The event aims to bring every cultural group together and celebrate our differences through food and dance.

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

Engage and appreciate. During your time here at Emory you're going to have the opportunity to meet a lot of people and participate in a lot activities that celebrate cultures and events that you've perhaps never known about. Go out of your comfort zones and find activities that challenge you and make you want to change Emory for the better. You have four years here and trust me, that's not even close to enough time.

List of Extracurricular Activities

Emory Model United Nations, College Council, Alpha Kappa Psi, 1836 Dinner Host

Mario V. Costa, Oxford College Class of 2014, Emory College Class of 2016

Guayaquil, Ecuador
Marketing and International Business

What is your definition of diversity and how does that fit into Emory's community?

Diversity, in my opinion, is what describes and differentiates us among others. It is often related to your heritage, but for me, it is what you make out of your cultural backgrounds and where you come from. At Emory University, diversity is one of the things that you can easily notice. When you walk into a classroom, you’ll notice the variety of cultures. I think this is what makes Emory and Oxford so special. Having a wide variety of cultures around you at all times teaches you about different cultures and how diverse societies can be, even if individuals are from the same city!

How did you know you would fit in at Emory?

When I visited Emory, during the summer of 2011 for the Pre-College program, it was my first time studying abroad. I stayed on the Atlanta campus for two weeks. I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived. For the first time, I had a roommate I had to apply my second language to everyday tasks. And I had my first brushes with American culture. But after the first week of experiencing college through this program, I knew I wanted to come to Emory University. The program was very welcoming, and I noticed how hospitable and friendly the community at Emory was. I saw that no one seemed to worry about cultural differences, which made me realize that I’d never be in a situation that might make me feel uncomfortable. I was confident that I would feel at home while experiencing the best years of my life.

How have you grown or changed through participating in Emory's diverse community?

Having such a diverse student body took me out of the “bubble” I lived in while attending high school in Ecuador. Coming from a small high school (my class had 45 students) to Oxford College, I definitely experienced culture shock, but in a good way. Meeting new people from around the globe is always interesting, but it is way more fascinating once they become your friends. I can say I have a friend from every single continent now, and it still shocks me every day. The community at Oxford is perfect for each of the members that make up the student body. Having acquaintances from around the globe, while being an international student, has given me the ability to communicate my thoughts and learn new things in every conversation. This clearly has helped me build my personality and make me value my background and heritage even more than I did before.

How do you think the Emory community celebrates and supports diversity?

Different clubs and organizations share their culture through events all year long. These events always tend to have a big turnout from the students. Being on the executive board of the Hispanic club at Oxford College has given me insight into the openness of our community. The first thing that came to my attention is how the whole student body is so interested in learning about Hispanic culture. Having events that share our Hispanic customs, along with our traditional food (you know you’d love having some tapas, fried plantains, empanadas, and fajitas!), shows other students how things are back home. Through these events, not only from the Hispanic club on campus, but also many others to mention, one can see how Emory University’s community celebrates and supports the diversity on campus.

What is your favorite diversity-themed celebration on campus?

Attending festivities from other cultures I have never been exposed to are the most amazing things I have experienced so far. Even though the events aren’t all sponsored by cultural organizations and/or clubs, each gives you insight about a different culture. These events, promoted and organized by students, are key when it comes to expanding and growing interest and knowledge about diverse cultures throughout the student body. And yes, trying new food is always an amazing experience!

What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming freshman about exploring diversity on campus?

Pop the bubble! Get involved! Expose yourself to new cultural experiences! You might never get this exposure to such a diverse student body ever again. This is the time for you to make new friends from around the world. Everyone has a story to tell, and you can learn new things from those. If you stay in your dorm all day, and do not participate in events on campus, you won’t be able to say what I stated previously “I have a friend from every single continent!” Don’t limit your acquaintances just to people like you, or those with your same beliefs or opinions. Being exposed to such a diverse student body will only help you, and allow you to feel confident with who you are and where you come from.

List of Extracurricular Activities

International Admission Leadership Group, OLE (Organización de la Lengua Española), Peer Review & Conduct Board, Sophomore Class Gift Committee, Spanish Tutor, Student Admission Association (Tour Guide)