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What is The MVP?

What is MVP?



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    • A model for success for cultural student organizations
    • A way to validate and recognize the work of cultural student organizations
    • A resource for leaders of cultural student organizations

MVP is not....

  • a list of requirements.
  • a not mandate any events.
  • designed to detract from the primary mission of your organization.

The Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), is charged with working with students and organizations in varying University of Maryland culturally specific communities. These students and organizations represent the institution’s Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI), Black, Latina/o/x, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Advocate (LGBTQA), Multiracial-Biracial, Native American & Indigenous and Interfaith/Spiritually diverse populations among many others. Culturally specific organizations are groups related to a specific culture by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Culturally specific groups were founded to support the needs and address the concerns of these specific cultural communities. The primary function of the MICA Office is to provide advising to organizations and individuals who are part of these broad communities. In an effort to facilitate this primary function and to promote student and organizational development, the MICA Office will utilize an advising model that encourages student learning. The model will utilize both student development and culturally specific theories. The name of the model is The MVPThe MVP is an internal acronym for MICA staff that stands for "The “MICA Vision Plan.” Externally “MVP” will be used to evoke mental imagery of the association with the meaning of the sports acronym “Most Valuable Player.”  Culturally specific student organizations are often not recognized for the exemplary work they do; one of our goals is to promote their achievements as well as their service to UMD students and the campus community at large.

Click on topics below to find out more on the MVP:



The MICA Office will promote and utilize the MVP in our work with cultural communities, student organizations and individuals. Many groups already engage in programs and initiatives that emphasize some or all of these eight areas as a functional part of their organizational agendas. Our task is to highlight, reinforce and recognize group and individual efforts of programming in these areas.  Our goal as advisors is not to mandate or give groups an agenda, but to help them accomplish their goals and facilitate student learning and development.  The MVP will be utilized as an advising tool not as an “absolute requirement” for organizational and University recognition status. The purposes of the MVP are to:

  • To provide culturally specific students, organizations and communities information to help them develop, learn and succeed.
  • To assist new student leaders and organizations transition, set goals, prioritize and accomplish their missions.
  • To help cultural students, organizations and communities gain institutional recognition and support.

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The MVP advising model will encourage and recognize excellence in eight functional areas:

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How do you support the academic mission of the university?

  • Examples:
    • Peer mentorship programs
    • Referrals to academic resources on campus
    • Programs

While many units that work with minority/multicultural populations have traditionally centered much of their work on academic support, MICA’s primary function has been on student organization advising. Campus units such as OMSE, Intensive Educational Development and Academic Achievement Programs have addressed academic acculturation to the institution and issues of student retention. These offices focused their services on summer bridge programs, remedial assistance, tutoring, study/test taking skills and mentoring programs.

Unlike these other offices and cultural centers, MICA is housed in Student Affairs in a traditional campus activities/involvement service unit. Nationally, units like MICA are relatively new types of service operations. The prior existence of other units to serve minority/multicultural populations mandated that the service functions of units like MICA be differentiated.  Even with MICA’s focus on advising and the academic services provided by these other units, MICA staff can and should play a role in promoting the University’s central mission in the education of students and the dissemination of knowledge. The MICA Office can encourage student academic success in their work by:

  • Peer Mentorship Programs
  • Referring students to campus academic support units
  • Encouraging student programming that focuses on academic success
  • Cultivating a culture of academic success
  • Producing publications and disseminating information for populations
  • Recognizing outstanding student success on a continuing basis

Peer Mentorship Programs Although MICA is not an academic support unit, one traditional area of academic support that has fallen into our unit’s service offerings is peer mentor-ship programs. In the past OMSE ran a mentoring program with campus faculty/staff serving as mentors to students. Similar programs were run by minority faculty staff associations.  For whatever reason, over the past several years these programs have been non-operational.  Several student organizations have had peer mentoring programs with upperclassmen working with freshman and new students. Some of these student programs have grown to the size and scope where it is no longer possible for students to handle the load of program coordination and evaluation. MICA has stepped in through its advising role and is training mentors and helping to run these programs in the various communities. Two examples are the Latino Student Union Freshman Council and the BSU Big/Little Mentoring Program. MICA offered a credit bearing experiential learning internship for students working with the BSU last fall and will explore expanding this program to other groups. MICA will continue to encourage mentor-ship programs in all of the communities and will examine the feasibility of linking faculty/staff with students for mentoring.

Referrals One of the most helpful but least visible interventions is staff referring students to the appropriate campus service unit to help them address their problems. Because of MICA staff’s contact with these students on both a formal and informal basis, we are in a unique position to help many students.  As advisors we should constantly keep students informed about the work of support units and encourage students to seek help when they need it. MICA staff should also constantly reinforce the goal of high academic achievement and should foster the notion that it is no shame to seek help. One campus official suggests to students who may be doing “B” work in the classroom to not be satisfied and seek a tutor to get help to possibly receive an “A.”

 Encouraging Student Programming Focused on Academic Success Many groups already host programs that present information about academic departments and support units that advocate personal and academic success. We want to encourage more of this and get students to promote academic success for all of the members of their organization not just those in leadership positions. We will promote groups being aware of and mindful of academic deadlines and encourage them to plan and program around semester examination periods and schedules.

Such programs might include:

  • Enrollment in Selective University Colleges and majors
  • Study and test taking skills
  • Information on applying to graduate and professional schools

Cultivate a Culture of Academic Success The nature of our work in supporting students outside of the classroom has led many of us to focus only on the learning students receive from their co-curricular involvements. While this learning helps students to develop and may lead to career opportunities it does not lessen their formal classroom obligations. Unlike faculty and staff members who take a pragmatic approach and stress the importance of grades, many students are influenced by a campus popular culture that suggests that grades are not important. This is often suggested in reference to stories about employers not wanting someone who has great grades and no people skills.  While this may be true, we must impress on students the fact that great grades get you in the door and great people skills helps you land the job. Poor grades may not get you the opportunity to show your people skills.  Grade point averages are not only important for students seeking employment after graduation, but as they seek entry and retention in selective University of Maryland colleges and majors. As staff working with these groups we should remind students of the importance of grades, major selection and other goals related to their potential career choices.  Our conversations with them should not only be about student involvement but about balancing the demands of their activities with excellence in the classroom.

Publications MICA staff co-produce and disseminate information with OMSE and LGBT Equity.These “handbooks” are for specific populations and inform students of on campus and off campus resources that help to acclimate students to the University.

Two examples of these publications are:

  • The Latina/o Student Handbook
  • Asian Pacific American Student Handbook

Recognize Outstanding Student Success As much as possible the MICA Office will recognize outstanding academic achievement. We will recognize students who make the Dean’s list, those who get into select majors, secure internships or graduate.  No gesture is too small or unimportant to encourage them to succeed during their tenure at the University.

MVP Scholarship Learning Outcomes

(Persistence and academic achievement)

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How do you develop the members of your organization or community as individuals?

  • Tools:
    • Wellness Model
    • Culturally specific personal development models
    • Referrals to campus resources and services

The MICA Office will promote “personal development” for student organization members as part of the MVP. While culturally specific groups have programmed in terms of growth and development, there has been less focus on personal/membership development in culturally specific groups than in Greek letter organizations. This may be due to Greeks’ emphasis on pledging, brotherhood/sisterhood and ritual.  Whatever the difference, many culturally specific groups could benefit with more of a focus on personal and membership development. This category of the MVP will advocate for personal development for all members not just the group’s officers or executive boards. Our goal will be to disseminate information, opportunities and skills to as broad an array of the organizations and members as possible.  We will promote personal development through:

 The Wellness Model

Wellness is a concept that includes creating a full and balanced lifestyle and taking responsibility for one’s own health. The Wellness concept was developed by Dr.  William Hettler. The Wellness Model focuses on six dimensions of development and provides a framework that is easy for students to understand. The six dimensions of Wellness are:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Occupational

(The following information was adapted from The National Wellness Institute Six Dimensional Wellness Model)

PHYSICAL The physical dimension recognizes the need for regular physical activity. Physical development encourages learning about diet and nutrition while discouraging the use of tobacco, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. Optimal wellness is met through the combination of good exercise and eating habits. Students are encouraged to: eat properly; exercise regularly; avoid drugs, drink responsibly and to take time for relaxation and stress reduction. 

EMOTIONAL The emotional dimension recognizes awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Emotional wellness includes the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about oneself and life. It includes the capacity to manage one’s feelings and related behaviors including the realistic assessment of one’s limitations, development of autonomy, and ability to cope effectively with stress. Students are encouraged to keep a healthy and positive attitude, be sensitive to their feelings and the feelings of others.

SPIRITUAL The spiritual dimension recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence. It includes the development of a deep appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe. Spiritual Wellness encourages students to search and affirm their spiritual beliefs, be open and understanding of the spiritual beliefs of others, seek humanitarian forms of interaction, explore and define personal and world spiritual values.

SOCIAL The social dimension encourages contributing to one’s environment and community. It emphasizes the interdependence between others and nature. Social Wellness includes encouraging students to find friendships and community  on campus; maintaining their former community ties, learning to interact with others different then oneself, networking for information and balancing one’s time to include the healthy promotion of fun activities.

INTELLECTUAL The intellectual dimension recognizes one’s creative, stimulating mental activities. A well person expands their knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing their gifts with others. Intellectual Wellness includes the promotion of lifelong learning, listening to others, exposing one’s self to new experiences, finding applications for material learned in the classroom and learning through varied experiences.

OCCUPATIONAL The occupational dimension recognizes personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work. At the center of occupational wellness is the premise that occupational development is related to one’s attitude about one’s work. Occupational Wellness includes pursuing career objectives that complement ones personal goals and values; utilizing resources that help one strengthen and hone their marketability and job hunting skills.

(Adapted from The National Wellness Institute Six Dimensional Wellness Model)                                                   

Culturally Specific Personal Development Models Many activist, scholars and theorists who are part of the larger communities of which our organizations are representative have developed models for personal development. MICA staff will be encouraged to be knowledgeable about these models and to use them in their work with students and organizations when they believe them to be appropriate.   

MVP Personal Development Learning Outcomes

(Practical Competence and Interpersonal/Intrapersonal Competence)

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  • How do you help members of your organization or community learn more about themselves in terms of their culture?
  • Identity development models focused on sexual identity and racial identity.

Identity development is a central concern for many members of culturally specific student organizations. The very names of these organizations suggest a political point of view   in regards to race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. (Even with the research, theories and political statements how one chooses to identify themselves in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender is highly personal and must be approached with great care.) Who one is in their many guises can only be ascertained after deep reflection of self at any given moment in time. We must allow students to engage in this personal process and encourage staff to be aware of these complexities in the students with whom they work. This area is fraught with the potential for misunderstanding, and yet must be addressed because so many of our students grapple with who they are in terms of these descriptors. Our goal is to help students by giving them information and possibilities and at no time to proscribe what any one person’s identity should be. This is crucial because in many of our students informal dealings and conversations with each other, judgments in regards to who is “more this or that” are routinely made. Descriptors such as Twinkie, Uncle Tom, and Coconut are used in their informal conversations about those in their communities who may not have chosen to be a part or those who may be involved in majority organizations. Culturally specific groups and their memberships are sometimes mockingly described in terms of their advocacy and their militancy. We must encourage students that their groups should be big tents and educate them that everyone’s level of awareness is not equal.  One colleague on the west coast used racial identity theory to explain to students why some members of their campus might chose to not be involved in a campus culturally specific organization. Similar practical applications of racial and sexual orientation identity theory can be applied at Maryland. The following are two examples of identity development:

A Model of LGBT Identity Development

Exiting Heterosexual Identity Requires recognition that one’s feelings and attractions are not heterosexual and telling others that one is lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Developing a Personal Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Identity Involves stabilizing one’s sexual identity and challenging internalized myths about what it means to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Developing a personal identity status occurs in relation to others who can confirm ideas about what it means to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Developing a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Social Identity Consists of creating a support network of people who know and accept one’s sexual orientation.

Becoming a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Offspring Involves disclosing one’s sexual identity to parents and recontextualizing family relationships after disclosure.

Developing a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Intimacy Status Entails establishing one’s first meaningful same gender relationship.

Entering a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Community Involves making some degree of commitment to social and political action. Some individuals never take this step; other do so at great personal risk to themselves.

Taken from Nancy J. Evans, Deanna S. Forney and Florence Guido-DiBrito, eds., Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1998)

Minority Racial Identity Development

Stage 1: Conformity Stage At this stage the individual exhibits an unequivocal preference for the dominant group’s values and a denial of his or her own cultural heritage and upbringing. The stage is characterized by a depreciating attitude toward oneself and toward members of one’s own minority group.

Stage 2: Dissonance Stage At this stage there is a gradual breakdown of the individual’s denial about his or her cultural heritage. Many conflicts are experienced—between appreciating and depreciating attitudes toward oneself and other members of the same minority group, between appreciating and depreciating attitudes toward members of the dominant group, between dominant—group views of minorities and the individual’s own feelings of shared experience with other oppressed people.

Stage 3: Resistance and Immersion Stage The individual feels guilty about having “sold out” in the past and thereby contributed to his or her own group’s oppression, feels anger bordering on rage about having been oppressed and “brainwashed” by forces in the dominant society, seeks information about his or her own cultural history and traditions. This stage is characterized by strong identification and commitment to one’s own minority group. The individual totally rejects the dominant society and culture and tends to distrust and dislike all dominant—group members.

Stage 4: Introspection Stage The individual experiences increasingly greater comfort with his or her own sense of identity but may experience a conflict between a feeling of responsibility and commitment to his or her minority group and a growing sense of individual autonomy. The individual reevaluates aspects of both the minority culture and the dominant culture and is increasingly concerned with other oppressed groups. He or she experiences ambivalence about embracing positive elements of the dominant culture.

Stage 5: Synergistic Stage The individual experiences a sense of fulfillment, pride, and identification about his or her own culture. He or she has a strong sense of individual self-worth, self-confidence, and autonomy and has greater understanding and support for all oppressed people. The individual is open to constructive elements of the dominant culture and experiences selective liking and trust of dominant-group members who seek to eliminate the dominant group’s repressive actions.

(Atkinson, Morten & Sue 1998)

MVP Identity Development Learning Outcomes

(Cognitive Complexity)

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How can your organization work more effectively?

Focuses include:

With the MICA Office's primary responsibility as student organization advisors, organizational development is in many respects the core of our work.

The MVP is an organizational development tool. These nuts and bolts aspects of how to run an organization are useful for student leaders and new Graduate Assistants. The nuts and bolts of organizational development that the MVP will focus on the items noted below

Organizational Mission Review MICA staff will encourage groups to review their mission statements and constitutions on a yearly basis. We will help groups brainstorm their purpose and help them to set programmatic agendas.

Goal Setting 

We will give students information on:

  • What goals are
  • Why set goals
  • Goals vs. Objectives
  • Benefits of setting goals as a group
  • Steps for setting goals
  • Action Planning

Group Development/Team Building 

Provide students information on:

  • The importance of teambuilding
  • Group development stages
  • Delegation/Committee Effectiveness
  • Motivation
  • Running a Meeting/Parliamentary Procedure


Help students to think about:

  • Benefits of Membership in Group
  • Finding New Members
  • Welcoming New Members
  • Understanding Member Needs

Planning a Yearly Calendar/Futures Planning

  • Cycle of the Year
  • Semester Overview/Review
  • Developing a Five Year Plan


  • How to Program
  • Utilizing Campus Resources

Legal Responsibilities/Group Personal Liabilities

  • What are student legal responsibilities?
  • Risk Management

Evaluations Assessment

  • The Importance of Program Evaluation
  • Know your membership needs

MVP Organizational Development Learning Outcomes

(Civic Engagement)

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How are you encouraging leadership development of yourselves and your members?

  • Resources:
    • EDCP 418 Classes
    • MICA’s Multicultural Leaders Summit
    • Conferences

As with organizational development, another core area of MICA’s work is in leadership development. MICA will introduce students and organizations to general and culturally specific leadership models. Resources and information will be made available to leaders and group members. We will recognize outstanding leadership and facilitate learning opportunities.

  • EDCP 418, 317 & 417 Classes
  • MICA Leadership Retreat
  • Student Conferences/IFLI

EDCP 418 Classes MICA staff are currently teaching four culturally focused leadership classes. Although the classes are open to any UM student, we would like to make a conscious effort to recruit students leaders with whom we work to register for these courses. The classes are also a potential way to help uninvolved students to learn more about cultural organizations. Staff will also pursue readings and case studies that are relevant to our work with students as well as in the classroom.

MICA Leadership Retreat Pending yearly funding MICA will host an annual leadership forum.

Student Organization/Community Leadership Forums or Conferences Many groups attend state and regional leadership conferences, we will encourage students to go to these programs and provide them with information on new opportunities.

MVP Leadership Development Learning Outcomes

(Practical Competence)

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  • How does your organization help students build a sense of community?
    • Levels of community:
      • Culturally specific community
      • University community
      • Alumni community
      • Off campus affiliate community

Culturally specific student organizations play an important role on campus in aiding student’s feeling of satisfaction and affiliation. MICA will encourage and recognize student participation in four broad communities noted below:

Culturally Specific Community Although the communities are defined as culturally specific all of our communities are diverse in terms of ethnicity and culture.  We will encourage students to develop a sense of community across this broad spectrum.

University Community We must and should promote general involvement in the University of Maryland sense of overall campus community. Students should participate in general University activities, opportunities and events.

Alumni Community Many communities have formed alumni associations. Many of these alumni were former members of the groups with which we work. The groups should maintain contact with alumni and host events around appropriate University celebrations such as Homecoming and Maryland Day.

Off Campus Affiliate Community There are counterpart communities and organizations off campus that our groups can and should work with. These include ethnic neighborhoods, local and national cultural specific advocacy organizations, embassies and churches. This involvement could be political, community service or advocacy.

MVP Community Development Learning Outcomes

(Humanitarianism and Civic Engagement)

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How does your organization give back to the community?

Avenues for service:

  • Campus
  • Affiliate Community
  • General Community

Culturally specific student organizations have historically provided a great deal of service to groups and communities. The idea of giving back to one’s community has been a mantra of sorts for many in these organizations. This idea suggests a high level of personal and communal responsibility. There will be three areas of focus for Community Service:

  • Campus Service Involvement
  • Affiliate Community Service Involvement
  • General Community Service Involvement 

Campus Service Involvement Service provided to campus agencies, offices and organizations. This might include serving on campus committees and task forces; helping the University with student recruitment; and outreach efforts to the community and alumni that supports the University’s mission.

Affiliate Community Service Involvement Service provided to larger off campus counterpart of student communities. This would include specific interventions into culturally specific communities and working with agencies that serve culturally specific populations and causes. Examples of this include Latino student organizations working with the Langley Park community; the Pakistani Students Association leading a drive and collecting money for earthquake victims in Pakistan; or LGBT working with the Whitman Walker Clinic.

General Community Service Involvement Off campus service involvements that go beyond one’s cultural community. These would include working with all general areas of community service.

MVP Community Service Learning/Learning Outcomes

(Humanitarianism and Civic Engagement)



How do you reach out, learn from and work with other cultural student organizations and communities?

Culturally specific student organizations are unfairly stereotyped as serving as an impediment to campus diversity. Some students choose not to affiliate with these groups because they believe that they already know about their group and will not have a diverse experience. Describing these groups as ethnic silos and enclaves stands in the face of research that has demonstrated that members of these groups have more cross cultural interactions and contact than other students on campus. Involvement and learning will be encouraged and recognized in three areas of cross cultural activity:

Intra Cultural Involvement The Latino, Asian American, LGBT, Native American and Black communities are all comprised of a range of smaller sub-groups. Intra cultural involvement is a group exploring diversity within their own broad community. It is important for members of. these broad communities to understand the identities and cultures of these sub-groups. Many of our student groups have had to address issues of stereotypes, misunderstanding, and conflict within their communities. Issues of identity development are often impacted by one’s identity in the smaller sub-groups.

Inter Cultural Involvement Intercultural involvement is going beyond one’s own broad racial/cultural sexual orientation category and reaching out and working with others.  Many of our groups have initiated programs and activities that have promoted inter cultural awareness and understanding. The Black Student Union and Latino Student Union have co-sponsored a joint general body meeting for several years. Groups co-sponsor programs and invite and encourage each other to attend their own culturally focused programs and events.  

Diversity Multiculturalism Is promoting the broad concept of diversity and multiculturalism and seeing its value. Students and organizations can get involved at this level by participating in general campus diversity initiatives.

MVP Cross Cultural Involvement Learning Outcomes

(Cognitive Complexity & Humanitarianism)

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  • What is the mission of your organization?
  • What is your organization already doing?
  • What is your vision for your organization?
  • Are there missed opportunities to focus on any of these 8 areas?

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  • A clearer conception of the work you do
  • Focus on the “why”s, not just “how”s
  • Recognition opportunities
    • Monthly recognition
      • End of Year MICA Reception

MICA staff will promote the MVP in our advising roles with student organizations, at organizational retreats and at our yearly multicultural summits. We will also maintain information on the MVP at our website. The MVP is an advising tool and not a requirement for organizations to complete to remain in good standing for official University recognition purposes. The MVP program will be built by encouraging student organizations to program around the eight functional areas of the MVP and to recognize such efforts.

Monthly Recognition:  MICA staff will seek nominations on a monthly basis for programs that fall into one of the categories of the MVP. These monthly certificates of recognition will be selected by MICA staff.  Nominations may come from the organizations, an organizational advisor, MICA or other University faculty and staff.

Annual Recognition:  MICA will hold a yearly awards program where organizations will be recognized for exemplary efforts in regards to functional areas of excellence of the MVP.

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