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Learning Beyond the Classroom through CMASS

By Joanne Joujoute


UMass Communication students are reporting on a variety of Latina/o issues as part of a Spanish-language and Latino Media class.

UMass Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS)

UMass Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) at Circle of Change Conference last year

As part of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the presence of the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success (CMASS) has created the opportunity for students to achieve a level of success in both their academics and overall experience at the university.

Located at the university’s Wilder Hall, CMASS is a unit at the University that is staffed with faculty members that are willing to help students connect to all the necessary resources that will essentially shape and support their academic and developmental goals while attending UMass.

ALANA (Asian, Latina/o, African-American, and Native-American)

The role of CMASS has been to make sure that students, particularly students of color, are aware of the opportunities that are available for them as well as to provide them with such opportunities. The programs offered by CMASS range from academic support to student development, and the ultimate missions of these programs are to help students of color flourish within the community of UMass and prepare them for a promising future. CMASS maintains the support necessary for students by actively seeking them out and maintaining their partnerships across campus.

In just two years, the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success has made it a point to support this community by bringing together the four separate sectors that catered to minority students prior to CMASS in a way that has sufficiently provided opportunities that were not necessarily available to ALANA (Asian, Latina/o, African-American, and Native-American) students before. UMass transfer student, Lee Felix, is a student of color who notes that CMASS has assisted her in her transition here at the university as well as encouraged her to get more actively involved on campus.

Felix says, “CMASS connects you with people who not only look like you, but understand your struggles being on a mostly white campus.” She went on to say, “CMASS gave me the chance to do things that I had never done before like going to a career fair or a conference in California or participate in a mock interview with some of the best companies.” According to Oscar R. Collins, the Associate Director for Academic Support, students that fell under the ALANA and first generation categories at UMass were not normally nor historically connected to their community and the resources needed to ensure an efficient academic career. So despite the fact that CMASS is fairly new, the need to support this community is not. With that said, CMASS has proven to be an essential piece of the UMass Amherst community, especially since the dynamics of the people entering and attending college are changing so rapidly.

Unfortunately, concerns were raised within the emergence of CMASS and the coming together of all the different sectors that catered to ALANA students. Collins stated that there was a point when the number of ALANA students enrolled at the university dropped and with this issue came some doubts as to whether the university truly cared about their students of color. The community also questioned the true reasons behind CMASS. Collins says, “There was concerns in the community that these decisions were being made in silo, and what I mean by that is that there were conversations had and concerns that not enough student input or voice was taken into consideration and what that led to was both student, faculty, and staff having great concern and worry about what this merger would mean.” However, he did indicate that CMASS has been working tremendously hard at rebuilding an awareness of their true intentions for the students of UMass by working directly one-on-one or in small groups with students. The ultimate goal for CMASS is to essentially connect with every student that is a part of the campus community. “You come through our doors as a student and need support, we’re going to offer that support,” said Collins.



This is the link to the CMASS web page.


This link is the web link to the UMass web page. I just think if time allows it, it would be good to hyperlink the word UMass within the text.



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