Transfer student seeks diversity, identity at MU

A record number of students are enrolled for spring semester 2015.

Students enroll at MU for many reasons, but Claire Lott said she transferred to MU in search of diversity, identity and spiritual growth.

Lott had completed five semesters at Missouri Baptist University, but decided to transfer to MU to complete an interdisciplinary degree in social work and Chinese.

“I lacked a lot of community (at Missouri Baptist),” she said. “There wasn’t a lot of diversity there, or community. But here there are so many things going on on this campus.”

Lott said her identity is more complicated than others. Adopted from China at the age of 8, Lott was raised in St. Louis by Caucasian parents. She remembers some Chinese from her childhood but spoke English at home. Her family attended an Asian church, but they usually went to the English service.

Lott knew a few members of MU’s Asian Christian Fellowship and Asian American Association before she arrived in Columbia and has attended several groups and clubs in her first two weeks on campus. Overall, she said she has been encouraged by the people she has met at MU.

“I didn’t expect that everyone would be so nice,” she said with a laugh. “People are so willing to give me directions when I get lost.”

MU reported a record number of students enrolled in the 2015 spring semester. Three thousand, five hundred and eighty-eight students are enrolled in the university; this number includes graduate students, students re-enrolling from the fall semester and transfer students.

“We’ve been seeing a general increase in overall enrollment for the fall semesters,” said Christian Basi, associate director of the MU News Bureau. “So it stands to reason that the spring enrollment also would increase.”

Interestingly, while MU’s overall enrollment has been hitting record highs, the number of transfer students and Missouri high school graduates are in an overall decline. An increasing percentage of first-time students are coming from out of state, Admissions Director Chuck May said.

“Data for Missouri shows the number of high school graduates is continuing to decline and is not projected to trend back upward until after the year 2020,” he said. “The percentage of out-of-state students is increasing. Overall, total enrollment for the university will also increase as retention rates increase, as they did this year.”

After receiving her degree from MU, Lott said, she hopes to become a social worker and help families who want to adopt from China. She sees her time in Columbia as another part of discovering who she is and who she wants to be.

“My identity is Chinese, but coming to America has made that more complicated,” Lott said. “I guess I’m just trying to figure things out, same as anyone else at Mizzou.”

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