When Wisconsin native Dr. John Evans returned to the Midwest three years ago, the political scientist was looking for opportunities to share his time and talents with community groups whose missions matched his interests. His love of languages and appreciation for the Latino culture led Evans — an assistant professor of political science — to Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio, a long established civic organization that serves the large Latino population in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He was asked to talk with teens who are part of a CLUES program for high school students about the importance of Latino community members being knowledgeable about and active in politics. While he was impressed by the intellect and curiosity of the high school students, he noted many of them were still were unsure about their futures, especially when it came to pursuing higher education. He realized that as a faculty member at a nearby university, he was in the perfect position to encourage the high-achieving Latino students to include college in their thinking about their futures, while also helping UW-Eau Claire meet its goal of becoming a more diverse campus. Working with the Admissions office, Evans brought 20 Latino high school students and their parents to UW-Eau Claire for a daylong visit so they could get a sense of what it’s like to be on a college campus. The response from both the students and their parents was positive. If just a few of the students decide to enroll in college — be it at UW-Eau Claire or another university — Dr. Evans says he’ll consider his outreach a big success. After teaching at a highly diverse university in California, he values the varied experiences and viewpoints diverse students bring to classroom discussions. He believes that being part of a diverse and engaged campus community better prepares all students to succeed as professionals and as citizens. Through his work as a volunteer and a political science professor, Dr. John Evans is educating students AND encouraging diversity, and that’s pretty powerful.
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