For Students of Color, Return to In-person Learning Poses Extra Challenges

Young people with face masks back at work in office after coronavirus quarantine and lockdown.

Students of color say it’s common to feel invisible or alienated on campus. However they see college as an opportunity to advance themselves and their communities.

Safiya Mohamed reports:


As the school year begins, students of color are facing a mix of emotions as they go back to in-person learning. 


“My first year of university… it’s been like online so I hadn’t really gotten the full-on college experience,” said Asiya Abdulkadir, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota. “So now it’s kind of like a culture shock, but I’m not really complaining.” 


Many students of color say it’s not uncommon to feel invisible or alienated on campus. However they see college as an opportunity to advance themselves and their communities. Abdulkadir says that, as a visible Muslim on campus, she tries to uphold a positive image of Islam when interacting with others.


“Because they haven’t really had visibly Muslim friends or they haven’t really been associated with Muslim people, so there’s a lot on your shoulders.” 


Kadija Koroma is a first-year student majoring in Business at the University of St. Thomas. She’s grateful to be attending college on a full-ride scholarship and plans on taking advantage of it. 


“I feel great about it, that I can be here. Like I actually achieved something that my ancestors wanted for me to be able to achieve, and so for that reason, it feels great,” she said. 


While BIPOC students have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, the percentage of students of color on college campuses is steadily increasing.


Koroma and Abdulkadir both said that finding community with other BIPOC students has helped them to feel more empowered in predominantly white spaces. 


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