NDNU To Host Community Dialogue On Ways to Better Serve First-Generation and Non-US Born Students

Belmont, CA, April 7, 2009 — A group of Notre Dame de Namur University students will host a Community Dialogue on Tuesday, April 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to help find ways NDNU can  better serve first-generation students.

This year’s dialogue, held in the Ralston Hall Ballroom on the NDNU campus, will serve as an opportunity for first-generation and non-US born students from Sequoia High School, Menlo Atherton High School, and NDNU to share the experiences, successes, and challenges they’ve faced in trying to access higher education, and their recommendations as to what NDNU can do to better support them and their families.  The event is a collaborative effort between the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, the John Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford University, and NDNU.

Last year over 100 people, including students, families, high school teachers, principals, and NDNU employees, attended the Community Dialogue, which focused on undocumented students, and the roadblocks that prevent them from studying in college. This year’s dialogue is a continuation of the collaborative work started last year.

“This year we are using a new approach. We first did small focus groups at each of the schools, and the Community Dialogue will bring them all together and address their problems,” said Gretchen Wehrle, Chair of the Department of Psychology and Sociology, and instructor of the Community Psychology class. “This is a prime opportunity both for NDNU to assist its current and potential students as best as it can, and for our psychology students to learn through doing.”

NDNU hosted its first Community Dialogue, planned and facilitated by the Community Psychology class, in 2001. Subjects have included social issues such as civic and political development, as well as relations between the university and the community, and making NDNU a better campus. In 2008, this event was integrated with the social justice activities of NDNU’s Dorothy Stang Center, fostering the discussion of undocumented students and their lack of access to higher education.

Notre Dame de Namur University is an independent Catholic, coeducational institution serving nearly 1500 students. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur, Belgium in 1851 and chartered by the state in 1868, NDNU maintains a strong commitment to social justice and community engagement. The University is fully accredited and offers 26 liberal arts and career preparation undergraduate programs, and graduate degrees in 17 areas of study. The 50-acre campus is located in Belmont, just south of San Francisco.