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New England College touts student body diversity

Union Leader Correspondent

September 02. 2013 9:24PM

HENNIKER — Enrollments at New England College are up across the board, but it's the influx of minority students in which the liberal arts school is taking great pride.

The freshman class, one of the three largest classes in 30 years, began moving in to the dorms over the weekend and buzzed in and out of the Simon Center, checking their mailboxes and looking for information about parking stickers.

This year, 32 percent of the incoming class is non-white — a sharp contrast to the state's minority population of 6 percent, according to spokeswoman Dia Kalakonas.

The total African-American population on campus is 20 percent, Kalakonas said, and 5.4 percent of the students come from foreign countries.

In 2012, the college was second in the state to Dartmouth for overall diversity, and had the highest African-American percentages of any college in New Hampshire.

"We are delighted to see that our programs and style of education are resulting in more students choosing New England College," said New England College President Michele Perkins. "I believe our environment of learning and culture of inclusion is a large part of our success."

Senior Parica Mason, an African-American who grew up in a mostly-white community in New York State, said the college has made significant efforts to make minorities feel at home on campus, from celebrating Black History Month and the Chinese New Year to the creation of clubs on campus that help minorities find acceptance.

"Our school does a good job training the faculty, staff and students about diversity," said Mason.

Freshman Emmanuel Asheampong, an African-American who just moved to campus from Massachusetts, said that diversity really wasn't a factor in his decision to attend New England College.

"It's not something I really thought about," he said.

Sophmore Andrew Zuidema said diversity wasn't a factor for him either, but he enjoys meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures.

"I've made new friends from different nations and I really enjoy learning about their cultures and languages," he said.

Student Senate President and senior James Patten said the college is "a welcoming community."

"There are always a ton of things to do and a lot of different people to meet, making the college experience memorable and rewarding," he said.

Education General News Henniker Manchester

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