The Year I Formally Became a 'Minority'

Article excerpt

Is the sky falling for minority students because the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case seeking an end to using race as a preferential college admissions factor?

Not necessarily. Despite hand-wringing from those who cherish the value of diverse college campuses, taking race and ethnicity out of the admissions equation could eventually turn out to be a good thing.

If the court's ruling makes merit-based admissions the norm, would students of all races begin respecting each other as equals rather than assuming that minorities only got in to "diversify" the school?

How many years of confidence in college admissions procedures would it take for groups of co-workers at any given organization to assume that a minority peer was in his or her position because of talent and not merely to fill a quota?

There are many people out there who hope to see that day because -- contrary to the beliefs of whites who feel they have been passed over for admissions, scholarships, internships and jobs because they weren't a minority -- preferential treatment for race or ethnicity is an "advantage" that's not all it's cracked up to be.

I graduated from a diverse public college preparatory school and attended an equally diverse public university where no one ever felt anyone else got in because of affirmative action. My strong undergraduate performance earned me a full-ride scholarship to a prestigious marketing graduate program at Northwestern University, ranked in the top 10 of the prestigious U.S. News and World Report "Best Colleges" list.

I think of it as the year I formally became a "minority." In all my classes I was the official Hispanic, routinely called upon to enlighten my white classmates aboutLatino consumers' struggles in the barrio with English language acquisition, gangs and discrimination -- none of which I'd ever had any experience with.

It was obvious that most of my fellow classmates knew I was there on a full scholarship and assumed that I'd gotten into the school through some official attempt at diversity. …