A Room for Everyone


Thao and VISTA corps volunteer Megan Schlecht dig in to pizza and salad while conversing with a fellow student in the Mosaic Center.

The Mosaic Center open house week brings students of all backgrounds together.

Ben Harvey, Staff Writer

During a four day stretch in late January, the Office of Diversity and Multiculturalism used the allure of food and conversation to entice students to visit an open house hosted in the Mosaic Center at the Coon Rapids campus. From coffee and pizza to popcorn and nachos, each day of the event offered different refreshment options that helped spark introductions between students of all backgrounds. 

Venoreen Browne-Boatswain, the Director of Diversity and Multiculturalism at Anoka-Ramsey since 2014, explained that the goal of the open house week was to attract more students to the Mosaic Center so they could experience all it has to offer.  

“The Mosaic Center is a place where students can come and interact with other students who are different than themselves,” she said. 

“[People] think that it’s a room for students of color, but it’s indeed a room for everyone here, and it’s a way for people to get to know each other.” 

Although only twenty percent of Anoka-Ramsey students are students of color, per a profile put together by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, Boatswain believes her office still plays a crucial role in the dynamic on campus.  

“Diversity is all of us. Everyone here. My work here is to help prepare this entire college for the world, and that includes every student, whether they are white, black, Muslim, African, whatever.”  

She also stressed how students who take advantage of the Mosaic Center and become familiar with people of different backgrounds gain skills they’ll likely use in their career. “You may be hired by an employer today thinking that you are an employee may be just in Coon Rapids. Next thing you know, you have to go overseas or you may be working with someone from overseas,” she stated. 

“We are a global world, and each culture and each individual matter[s].” 

Students who attended the Mosaic Center definitely shared a strong appreciation of the unique diversity at Anoka-Ramsey. Chaia Thao, a student interested in pursuing a career in nursing, explained that her experiences at the school have made her feel “comfortable as a minority.” However, she still values opportunities to meet people who share her background.  

When asked if diversity (or a lack thereof) would have any effect on which school she would pick to transfer to after she finished her time at Anoka-Ramsey, Thao stated, “If I see someone who looks the same as I do, I’ll feel more connected with the school. I feel like I’ll feel more accepted if there’s diversity there.” 

The Office of Diversity and Multiculturalism open house week allowed students meet new faces and enjoy a variety of refreshments.