Anjali Venna
Mercury Staff

Fundraiser aims to support underrepresented Comets through graduation, help with retention

Mosaic in Motion, a new fundraising event hosted by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, seeks to raise money for scholarship, retention and graduation programs for underrepresented students.

Local businesses and organizations become sponsors of the event by donating money at five different tier levels and in turn receive certain benefits and tickets to attend the event on Nov.15 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Monique Wedderburn, Director of Development and Alumni Affairs, said the goal is to raise $50,000 for the scholarship fund. The fund’s distribution process and scholarship criteria is yet to be determined, but will be coordinated with the Multicultural Center and Galerstein Gender Center, Raul Hinojosa Jr, Director of Community Engagement said.

“We know students have lots of needs,” Hinojosa said. “Tuition is a challenge, there’s housing expenses to pay and then there are student groups who are first generation or low socioeconomic status that have a greater need for scholarships and support to stay in school and graduate.”

The event was proposed by the Advisory Council in the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. Attendees will participate in interactive painting, a silent auction, and hear from various speakers, including UTD alumnus and artist Desmond Blair, who learned to create art despite being born without hands.

“Their role as council members is to help fundraise for the office and students, so they got creative,” Hinojosa said. “Rather than do a luncheon or a traditional fundraiser, they put this event together to do something a little different to raise scholarship funds in a fun way.”

This is the first Mosaic in Motion event and Wedderburn said she hopes it becomes an annual occasion. A different scholarship program from the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement is the Diversity Scholars Program, which provides scholarships for academically excellent students in need of significant financial aid. Mosaic in Motion has a different focus.

“I believe this (Mosaic in Motion) is going to be the first emergency scholarships fund that we’ve established through this office,” she said. “There’s always a need for scholarship funds, and we don’t want to lose students who’ve made it into their freshman/sophomore year. It’s a means of us retaining them and developing a fund that allows us to respond to student needs.”

Lennox, Central Market, BB&T, GXA IT Solutions and the Erik Johansen School of Engineering and Computer Science are confirmed sponsorships. While members of these organizations will be present at the event, Wedderburn said she and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement want students to attend too.

“The donors want to meet students. That’s what energizes and engages them,” Wedderburn said. “This is a great opportunity for students to share their talents and to also explore if these are organizations they want to work for.”

Tickets to attend the event cost $100 and community members are purchasing tickets for students. If a student is interested in attending, Wedderburn said they can contact the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. Another way students can be involved is by volunteering at the event; information regarding volunteering will be released in the days before the event.

The Office of the President, university leadership and different committees created the Strategic Plan, which describes how the university will grow going forward and has different points of commitment. Wedderburn said the Mosaic in Motion event is part of the university’s strategic plan.

“If you look at our strategic plan and our president’s commitment to ensuring we have a diverse student body, this (Mosaic in Motion) is a way for us to profile the importance of having diverse perspectives,” she said. “This is just a wider way for us as a university to show that we are committed to ensuring we have that diverse voice.”