The following is reposted unedited from CJ Donald, who authors a student blog for the College

First of all, thanks for asking this question.

Yes, I have felt welcomed at Centre. I didn’t visit any of the colleges to which I applied (except for the college in my hometown), so the immediate warmth I felt from the time I stepped on campus was remarkably refreshing and surprising. People here are nice. Not just on campus, but in the community as well. No matter where I go in Danville, I feel just as welcomed. As you stated, the campus is not very diverse and the town is less so, therefore you can imagine some of the naïveté that is faced with regards to differences in lifestyle and culture. I have never felt as if someone was unwelcoming because of my race.

I maintain that those differences are present no matter what school you go to. Even if you were to attend a school that was more diverse (or had a population that resonated more with your respective cultural group), there would still be misconceptions and ignorance between groups of people. Everyone is different. The only way people will ever learn how to live together is if we experience those awkward moments and go through those growing pains. I won’t tell you that I haven’t experienced frustration and haven’t been stereotyped because of my race or where I’m from, but those frustrations and stereotypes are no different than those I experience because I don’t drink and because I listen to Sade. My point is, stereotypes and prejudices are everywhere, but I have never felt that my experiences as a student (or as a person) have been slighted because I am black. If anything, I have been granted the opportunity to show another side to the black man. I enjoy going to class, playing Scrabble, and reading poetry. I dress extremely well, I love women, and I love God. I love my little brother and sister and I like watching baseball. I have been able to show the best that black men have to offer. Coming to a predominantly white college has not diminished who I am; I honestly believe Centre brings the best out of every student.

When you ask about forced assimilation, I think it depends on the strength and self-confidence of each person, without respect to race. If a person is emotionally and mentally weak, then no matter what race they are or what college they attend, they will easily be persuaded by those around them. Assimilation is simply another word to relate the feelings of peer-pressure. If you allow someone else to change who you are, that is assimilation, no matter your skin color. I feel that I am a strong person and I have, since I can remember, refused to be anything other than who I am. So as far as feeling forced to assimilate? Never.

Good question.

Email me if you’d like to talk more.

  • prospective parent

    CJ, an admissions counselor suggested that I read your response to this question. thank you for your honesty. My daughter and I will be visiting the campus next week and we would love an opportunity to chat with you. It is nice to know that even though the minority numbers are low, the faculty and students are accepting and friendly. It is important for me to feel comfortable about sending my African American female off to college. She is a smart,strong, confident young lady who appreciates the differences in all people. of course there are always going to be a few battles to fight, we just don’t want to have to spend each day proving she’s worthy and feeling alienated. We look forward to our visit and hope that our visit will seal the deal for her being a part of the 2011 incoming freshman class.

  • Jasmon Dixon

    nice post CJ. You words speak are very real.

  • Natalie Frost

    CJ, nThis was lovely to read. Thank you for offering a perspective I often can’t describe to my prospective students, but that I wish all of them could hear.n

  • Dmsmit02

    Good question and response!

  • Fcconnor

    CJ, as the parent of a non-minority student, thank you for this thoughtful, well written response. I think Centre can help all students achieve their best and you are an excellent example. You have a very bright future….

  • MamaV

    “Assimilation is simply another word to relate the feelings of peer-pressure. If you allow someone else to change who you are, that is assimilation, no matter your skin color. “nnLoved this! Thanks, CJ!

  • Lovecandles

    I am bringing my African-American Son (“13″) to visit Centre in a few weeks. I am aware that the College is not very diverse…but I want for my son a place where he can receive a wonderful education, develop long-standing relationships with his professors and peers, grow intellectually and personally and be embraced for the wonderfull young man he is.

  • Lovecandles

    …Thanks CJ for sharing your personal journey thus far at Centre…It is appreciated.

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