The best part of Beverly Colston’s job is helping students experience personal growth and thrive in the community.
As director of the UVM Mosaic Center for Students of Color (formerly the ALANA Student Center) for 15 years, Colston’s goal is to create a diverse and rich community of empowered, engaged, and enthusiastic students of color.
“The Mosaic Center for Student’s of Color (MCSC) is about helping students succeed, blossom, thrive, and know who they are racially and ethnically,” Colston says. “We’re engaged with the holistic growth of our students, and that is a tremendous opportunity.”
For 20 years, the center has prided itself on providing a wide variety of programs and services, including student advising, leadership retreats, and events.
Creating a Community at the UVM Mosaic Center
The center began at UVM in 1973 as the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Back then, the office’s mission was to train UVM staff members to make campus more inclusive on an institutional level rather than focusing on students of color in the community. It later became the African, Latina, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Student Center in 1996, and was renamed the Mosaic Center for Students of Color in 2016.
In an interview last fall with The Cynic, Colston said the recent name change had been discussed for 15 years because the old name—ALANA—didn’t accurately represent the community.
“A mosaic is an intricately designed art piece constructed from assembling small, gemlike, colorful pieces of glass, stone, beads or other materials,” she told the Cynic. “While each piece retains its individual nature it also becomes part of a larger and beautiful whole.”
The center recently moved from the Redstone campus to a new space in the Living and Learning Center. The new location includes a kitchen, computer lab, meditation space, and a study lounge.
Students of color make up about 12 percent of the population at UVM, Colston says. The goal of new space is to offer a more central location and be more accessible to a greater number of students.
Colston is optimistic about the role the Mosaic Center for Students of Color will continue to play in students’ lives.
“The students are why I’m here. There’s nothing like the honor of being engaged with students’ lives and being part of their support network,” Colston says. “When it comes down to it, higher education is all about learning who you are, what you value, and how you can serve the world.”
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