New Multicultural Center graduate assistant works toward campus outreach


Courtesy of Imani Dillion

Imani Dillon, first-year graduate student, takes over the graduate assistant position at the Multicultural Center for the Spring 2020 semester. Located in the Plemmons Student Union, the center is a place that encourages diversity and inclusion.

Marlen Cardenas, Reporter

The Multicultural Center has dozens of books written by authors of color, a bright orange beanbag, a photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. making a peace sign on the wall — and now, a new graduate assistant.

Imani Dillon, a marriage and family therapy graduate student, said she is excited to host new events during her first semester as graduate assistant.

“I thought it would be a really cool and fun thing to do,” Dillon said. “I know that we can do some great things this year, especially in collaboration with some of the other multicultural groups on campus.”

Dillon, co-president of the Black Graduate Student Association, heard about the position through her involvement with the group. Before becoming a graduate assistant, Dillon said she did not use the center.

“I didn’t know what this center was,” Dillon said. “I didn’t know this was a place where students came to just hang out. I thought it was a more professional thing, not a leisure thing; I was like, ‘OK, if this is a student-based thing, then we can do some fun things in here.”

To reach more students through the center, Dillon said she wants to have the center  provide more opportunities for students to come in.

Sophomore child development major Roxana Sanchez said she uses the center the most in between classes.

“I can do my homework, I can socialize (or) I can take a nap if I want to. It’s just a really convenient and welcoming stop,” Sanchez said.

Junior political science major Jocelyn Ricoy said she feels the most comfortable in the Multicultural Center.

“I feel more at home there than I do on the rest of campus,” Ricoy said.

Making students feel at home is what Dillon said she wants to accomplish.

“I just want minority students to feel like they have somewhere to go and not feel like they are the outsider,” Dillon said. “When I pass by these classrooms, I don’t see anyone who looks like me, and I was very shocked to see that there are so many people of color that come into the MCC, and I was like, ‘This is more people of color than I’ve seen all semester.’ I know there are other students on campus we haven’t reached yet.”

Based on feedback she has heard from people visiting the center, Dillon said the MCC has not hosted many events.

“I’m trying to host events and let people know that (the) MCC is available for them. I want people to know the MCC is here,” Dillon said.

Ricoy said she wants to include students from all underrepresented backgrounds.

“We’re all in our own little corner, and no one really talks to each other, but really, we should be together,” Ricoy said.

Dillon used to walk past the center without knowing what it was for, and she said that is a problem.

“Why don’t students know about it?” said Dillon. “If this is for students, then it should be known by all students. The MCC should be one of the first things, especially minority students, know about when they come to apply for school. I wanted to be a part of BGSA because I didn’t feel like there was a community for me here, not knowing that (the MCC) was a place here.”

Dillon said she is open to suggestions on how to improve the center and wants to make the most out of her time in her position.

“I want to hear everything so I can do as much as I can the semester that I’m here,” Dillon said. “Anything that I can do to help, I will do. I want students of color to be able to come in here and feel like they have a home to go to.”