Friday, May 4, 2012

More volunteers are always needed for the University of Iowa Center for Diversity and Enrichment’s (CDE) Pen Pal Program.

Gabriela Rivera, CDE program specialist, says that the program has grown in popularity since its inception in 1996.

“This program helps to recruit talented students to the UI, especially Latino and Latina students, whose numbers have increased significantly over the past decade, reflecting demographic trends in West Liberty and the state of Iowa,” says Rivera, though the program is open to all students.

The UI has seen a significant increase in Latino and Latina students, from 985 in 2009 to 1,334 for the 2011-12 academic year, according to the UI Office of the Registrar Ethnic Enrollment Comparison Chart.

Any UI student who is enrolled as a full-time student can volunteer for the program. UI students are required to be in the program for the academic year, and to write five letters from October to March once a month. UI students are also required to fill out an application form in order for CDE staff to match depending on their interest and/or hobbies. They try to find as many similarities as they can between their matches.

Rivera says they hope to expand the program in the future and add more elementary schools from different Iowa communities, which will create more volunteer opportunities for UI students.

CDE is part of the UI Chief Diversity Office, which funds the program. For more information or to volunteer, contact Rivera at 319-335-0570, send email to, or visit