The driving force behind the Office of Multicultural Life (OML) is its students. Because of them, the Multicultural Center acts as a vibrant space where students can learn from one another and leave a lasting legacy on campus.

Whether it's through the network of support surrounding student leaders in the Emerging Leaders Program or the variety of ways student affinity groups create meaningful impact on campus, students remain the center of the activities, programming and events of the OML.

Alumni who’ve found a home within the Multicultural Center during their college years say the skills they’ve learned continue to make a difference in their lives, shaping the way they operate at work and the way they engage with their community.

Meet some of the inspiring students that take an active role at the Multicultural Center with the OML student and alumni spotlight.

Student Spotlight: AnnaMarie Fernandez '24

Meet one of the students who had the opportunity to serve as a co-faciliator for the Alliance for Justice Active Leadership (AJAL), an intiative, sponsored by OML, Community Engagement and Religious & Spiritual Life, that connects students with a network of resources and tools for coalition building with one another and beyond. AnnaMaria, a theatre and sociology double major and a dance minor, is also now the president of Alpha Chi Omega.

AnnaMarie shared her first-hand experience with Keanna Peña '25.

The first time I went to AJAL [as a sophomore], I had just been appointed vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion of my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. The Panhellenic Council, the Muhlenberg governing body of sororities, requires each sorority’s diversity leaders to go to AJAL.

When I went last year, I learned a lot of valuable information and resources that I could not only take back to my chapter but use to make a difference on campus. I learned how to facilitate and participate in dialogue; the difference between dialogue, discussion and debate; and how conversation is not just used to bounce ideas around but can also be used to create change. I learned how change is easier to create together versus alone.

This year I got an email from [Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Diversity Initiatives] Robin Riley-Casey, [Associate Director of Community Engagement] Eveily Freeman, [Chaplain] Janelle Neubauer and [Director of Community Engagement] Beth Halpern, asking me to apply to co-facilitate AJAL. It was the first time they ever asked students to do that. Muhlenberg had never invited students to work with the Offices of Community Engagement and Multicultural Life to create the schedule and decide what [student participants] would actually do. In the past, they had students facilitate activities or give morning affirmations, but they never had any students work to create, collaborate and teach. 

Read the rest of AnnaMarie's account in the Muhlenberg news story about her experience.

Student Spotlight: Mustafa Hall '23

Meet a student who found an outlet for self-discovery and self-love through writing and poetry. Mustafa is the Op/Ed editor and a regular contributer to The Muhlenberg Weekly as well as a member of the President's Diversity Advisory Council.  Interview by AJ Henley '24. Photo by Anaya Battle '22.

Mustafa Hall 23 says he found happiness at Muhlenberg when he learned to embrace his true self.

Mustafa Hall ’23, a sociology major with an Africana studies minor, says that his journey at Muhlenberg College has been influenced heavily by his identity.
My relationship with my identity at Muhlenberg has been a process that has required immense self-work, introspection and therapy. When I look back at my freshman year, I see someone desperately trying to understand how they relate to a student body that is heavily white and straight.

It’s obvious now that my self-identity never faced so much rattling. I simply didn’t know who I was. However, over time and now being in my junior year, I understand where I lie in relation to those around me: I simply don’t fit and I don’t seek to. To fit in means to conform and to conform means to bend and crack at your spirit to make it palatable to those around you. I refuse to do that. With that, I have found my people who match my energy and am content with not blending in with the larger white, straight population of Muhlenberg. I find joy in standing out and I take immense pride in being overtly against the norm of what it means to be a Black man.

His identity as a Queer Black man affects not only his personal experiences, but his art as well.
My main art form is writing and poetry. Writing has always been a major part of my life as well as my Black Queerness. Writing allows me to better understand myself and the lived experiences that have influenced how I navigate the world. Furthermore, in every piece that I write (poetry, an Op/Ed, etc.), my Blackness and/or Queerness are involved in some way or another. It’s impossible, in my eyes, to separate art from complex and layered identities because they feed and thrive off of each other. Without my art, my Black Queer identity is hollow. Same thing for my writing in relation to my identity.  

From drag shows to open mic nights, he has thrived onstage at Muhlenberg, though he didn’t expect it.
My all-time favorite experience at Muhlenberg was being a part of my first ever drag show, the first semester of freshman year. Prior to this show, I have never performed in front of people nor nurtured the feminine energy that coats parts of my soul. This show taught me so much, but the lesson that I hold closest to my heart is that I can do absolutely anything that I set my mind to—and that I am a powerful being, filled with vigorous energy. It also bettered the relationship I had with my Queerness and melted years of shame off while simultaneously pushing me to ask myself, “Who am I and how do I want the world to see me?” 

While he’s all for external validation, his best advice to first-year Mustafa would be to know your worth and tap into your inner self.
Younger me spent so much time putting my hand out, trying to collect and preserve the external affirmations of the world. The game changed when I put my hand to my chest and told myself everything I wanted to hear from the world. I became my number one supporter. From my love life, to friendships, to mental health and body image, this mindset of relying on myself to build myself up has bled into every single aspect of my life. And I finally feel like I’m living. 

Read a sample of the work Mustafa has contributed to The Muhlenberg Weekly.

Student Spotlight: Shobha Pai '24

Meet one of the students behind VOICES, the Office of Multicultural Life’s new podcast. Interview by AJ Henley '24. Photo by Anaya Battle '22.

Shobha Pai '24 is one of the hosts of the VOICES podcast, produced by students involved in Multicultural Life.

Shobha Pai ’24, a psychology and media and communications double major, says she enjoys working at the Office of Multicultural Life because it provides her new opportunities.
My favorite thing about working at OML is the opportunity to work with amazingly talented and creative people. Everyone at OML is wonderful and working with them really helps me succeed both creatively and emotionally. I think it’s really helped me explore my creative side and made me more familiar with planning and execution. It has also given me connections to faculty and staff that I would not have normally made.

The Office of Multicultural Life also lets her focus on diversity, which is extremely important to her.
Diversity is beautiful. It showcases the beautiful differences we have as human beings with cultures and experiences. My experience at Muhlenberg has taught me so much about the importance of thinking about things from different experiences. Diversity is one of the core things that I try to keep in mind when working in any field.

One of her favorite things she’s done at Muhlenberg is working with prospective international students, but this year she’s working on VOICES, OML’s new podcast, along with fellow intern David Holman '22.
The accessibility that podcasts have really piqued my interest, and it’s one of the reasons I love them. I think everyone enjoys listening to music when they are doing mundane things, but podcasts actually give you information and entertain us.

While she is kept busy by her commitments on campus, she says the community inspires to keep going.
Everyone at Muhlenberg helps make it easier to juggle multiple responsibilities. The people here inspire me to be the best version of myself everyday. The community at Muhlenberg has shaped me into someone who is confident and loves herself. I have met some beautiful people here, and they have really supported me throughout my journey here. My advice to first-year students would be to relax and just go with the flow. [As] human beings, [we] try to control every aspect of their lives and get very stressed out. Sometimes we just need to let go.

Check out the Office of Multicultural Life’s new podcast VOICES, as well as Shobha’s own website.