Evanston Middle Schoolers Visit Campus

Evanston Middle Schoolers Visit Campus

Karina MoralesKarina Morales explains Northwestern Academy - Evanston to local high schoolers.

When Northwestern University doctoral student Eric Brown was recruiting students at Nichols Middle School in Evanston for his dissertation research, several asked whether he'd be interviewing them on campus.

Brown was surprised. He'd planned to interview them at their school during lunch periods. But after the students mentioned they had watched Northwestern football and basketball games and were curious about the University  -- but had never been on the Evanston campus --  Brown began thinking of a way to get the students to visit.

With support from the School of Education and Social Policy's Office of Community Education Partnerships and Northwestern's Office of Neighborhood and Community Relations, Brown developed a one-day program for 40 black, Latina and Latino, and multiracial students-- communities that have historically been underrepresented in higher education.

The day included a presentation on what planning for college should look like during all four years of high school. "Kids might think college isn't something to worry about until senior year," said Brown, whose research at the School of Education and Social Policy focuses on black boys’ experiences in racially diverse middle schools. "But we know that approach to college planning disadvantages members of historically underrepresented communities."

Brown also arranged for the middle schoolers to meet with Northwestern students and staff to discuss what to expect in college. It's an especially important topic for underserved populations, he said. "We wanted them to come away with a positive association with that identity, even though it's often not presented in a positive," he said.

As an African American man attending a predominantly white university, “I’m obviously a member of a historically underrepresented group,” Brown added. “It’s important for me to think about the communities I’m part of and doing what I can to bring them to the places where I don’t see them represented.”

He noted that disparity is a complicated issue and can’t be solved simply by bringing a group of students to Northwestern. But exposure is important, and such groups don’t get that experience as often as their wealthier peers.

“It’s up to the people in organizations to better serve these communities,” Brown said. “Get them in the door and give them an experience they can perceive as relevant.”

By Our Neighborhood News
Last Modified: 8/16/19