There’s nothing quite like the feeling of looking out at a room brimming with potential.
I experienced that feeling recently when I had the opportunity to welcome guests to our campus for the 2012 Greater Kansas City Hispanic Scholarship Fund Awards. It was a celebration of potential, as about 230 bright, eager young people were awarded scholarships to pursue their dreams of higher education. More than 40 of those young people will attend UMKC, and I can’t wait for our university to experience the benefits of having these terrific young people join our learning community.
For me, it’s all about ”potential energy” – as an engineer by trade, it’s a topic with which I am rather familiar.
Potential energy refers to energy that is stored within an object by virtue of its position, waiting to be tapped. When we provide scholarship assistance to bright young people full of energy, who otherwise could not afford higher education, we are putting them in position to release that energy in our midst, for the benefit of our campus, our community and the world.
That’s the reason we offer matching funds from our financial aid budget for these Hispanic Development Fund Scholars; and it’s why “Embracing Diversity” is one of six fundamental goals in UMKC’s strategic plan.
Make no mistake: embracing diversity is neither a chore, nor a handout. Diversity is an asset and a strength. Studying on a diverse campus enhances the educational experience for all, preparing students to live and work in a globalizing economy and culture. When a young person is denied an opportunity to reach his or her full potential, it is a tragedy, and not just for that person. We all lose the opportunity to benefit from the intelligence and creativity and effort that person would otherwise contribute. Potential energy is wasted. Everyone loses.
I am committed to minimizing such losses, and I invite you to join me in that effort.