Photo courtesy of Wake Forest News
Photo courtesy of Wake Forest News
Ken Bennett

Wake Forest evolves with new class

The class of 2020 caps off the most diverse student body in university history.

As the school year begins, Wake Forest welcomes not only a new freshman class to campus but also the most diverse student body the university has ever seen.

The class of 2020 is composed of students from 45 states and 24 countries, according to a Wake Forest News article by Kim McGrath and Cheryl Walker, as the university continues to work towards building a global community.

Faculty, staff and students around Wake Forest find this encouraging and believe it will help foster a more collaborative environment, leading to positive effects around campus both in and out of the classroom.

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“Meet new people; share your thoughts; consider others’ perspectives,” said President Nathan O.

Hatch in an email earlier this week. “And just as we share knowledge and chase after ideas in the classroom, let us apply that same interest to one another. Engage in hard conversations with kindness and respect.”

In addition to coming to Wake Forest from areas around the globe, the diversity of the freshman class — including cultural, political, racial and social — corresponds with the university’s intentions to encourage students to engage with different types of people and to strengthen the community as a whole.

Leaders and members of university organizations such as the Intercultural Center and the LGBTQ Center believe the increased diversity of the freshman class reflects a forward-looking student body that echoes the social climate of the country.

“The diversity of this class shows the direction Wake Forest is going in creating global citizens, which is accompanied by the services offered for students to learn about cultures different from their own,” said Jonathan A. McElderry, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the Intercultural Center.

Since the class of 2020 has stepped foot on campus, the university has hosted activities that focus on the idea of building a unified and open-minded community.

Although the past several months in particular across the country have been fraught with divisiveness and polarization, campus leaders remain committed to making Wake Forest a place for students to grow intellectually and interpersonally.

“The United States is on the cusp of getting involved with topics of identity, as well as race, religion and ethnicity more than in previous years,” said sophomore Julius Goble, a student assistant at the LGBTQ Center. “The conversation with identity is huge right now, so it’s reassuring to have such a diverse freshman class that parallels what’s happening in the world.”

The increase in diversity signifies the university’s goal to continue being a place for students to have open and respectful discussions, to learn from one another, and to embody the motto “Pro Humanitate.”

Students are hoping that the presence of a more diverse student body will be felt around the campus.

“I hope Wake Forest looks at this class as a chance to see changes happening on campus through different events and organizations,” said junior Vonnie White. “We see all these numbers and I hope it translates so we feel this diversity and inclusion.”

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