Summer Program Introduces Multicultural Students to Iowa State

By Barb McBreen, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service

AMES, Iowa ­– Exploring Iowa State University and touring Iowa’s agricultural sector is what students in the Academic Program for EXcellence (APEX) do the summer before their first year on campus.


Students participating in the Academic Program for EXcellence (APEX) toured Wheatsfield Grocery, a cooperative grocery in Ames. Students in the first row beginning on the left include: Emily Herrick, a freshman in microbiology; Jessica Hernandez, pre-veterinary medicine; Nghi Nguyen, a freshman in microbiology, Esperanza Moothart, a junior in global resource systems; Malcolm St Cyr, a freshman in agronomy. 
Back row: 
Turner Anderson, a freshman in animal science, Eboni Adderley, an animal science May graduate. 

The eight-week academic program is designed to assist incoming multicultural first-year students transition into Iowa State. Elizabeth Martinez-Podolsky, multicultural liaison officer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, worked with APEX coordinators Eboni Adderley, who graduated in May in animal science, and Esperanza Moothart, a junior in global resource systems, to plan and implement activities for the students participating in the program.

The students said the experiences have prepared them for classes this fall.

“It’s really cool,” said Jessica Hernandez, who is an animal science pre-veterinary student from Des Moines. “We are learning more about our college and I’ve also learned there are lots of resources on campus.”

Turner Anderson also is majoring in animal science and interested in studying veterinary medicine. He said the program is helping him network with peers and feel more at home.

“I’m from rural Nebraska, so it’s a nice change to see other students of color in a class together,” Anderson said. “I feel welcomed here and the campus feels like home. It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Emily Herrick, who grew up in Des Moines, said she decided to major in microbiology after attending an Iowa State Microbiology Club workshop for high school students. She appreciated the head start the program gave her and enjoyed touring Iowa State.

“I loved all the tours, especially the tour of the diagnostic laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine,” Herrick said. “I want to work for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to learn how to cure diseases.”

Malcolm St Cyr, an agronomy major from Senegal in Africa, said the program is helping him transition into an educational system that’s different from where he grew up.

“I was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Senegal. I had several offers from universities and I decided this would be the best place for me,” St Cyr said. “My goal is to help farmers get more profit from less land.”

Nghi Nguyen, is from Urbandale, Iowa and majoring in microbiology, she said the program is a good way to meet people and prepare for the fall semester.

“Everyone’s very friendly and the professors are caring,” Nguyen said. “I’m thinking of becoming a doctor to help families understand the benefits of eating nutritiously.”

Moothart, who is from State Center, Iowa, came to Iowa State because the global resource systems program fit her interests. This summer she’s been helping undergraduates prepare for college and it’s been a learning experience.

“I never thought I’d be teaching students younger than myself, I always thought I’d be on the learning side,” Moothart said. “The students are asking the questions I wanted answered at that age and it’s really refreshing to see students ask questions that really need to be answered.”

Adderley, the graduate helping with the program, said the experience has helped her develop professionally and prepare for graduate school in extension education this fall. 

“This has given me head start on how to guide students. After every tour we meet and do a debriefing session to discuss what they have learned and that has helped me in my professional development,” Adderley said.

Martinez-Podolsky said the program offers eight credits of free tuition. High school seniors can apply for the program through https://www.multicultural.dso.iastate.edu/programs/apex.

July 26, 2019