One of the most difficult and important decisions high school students must make is choosing a college or university. Even with the help of college counselors, students may feel overwhelmed by the many choices. When the time came for them to choose, Detroit Cristo Rey alumni Mayra Garcia and Daniela Garcia found their right fit at Eastern Michigan University because of its diversity.

For Mayra Garcia, a 2017 graduate who is now a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, the cost, distance from home and Eastern’s small size convinced her that Eastern was the right choice at first.

But when she actually stepped on campus, the diversity factor hooked her.

“Eastern celebrates diversity,” said Mayra. “When you enter the campus, there are long posts with flags that shows a student and where they’re from.”

Part of these diversity efforts include supporting students who are affected by the Trump administration’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Mayra explained that Eastern has a concrete wall that is covered with writing from students in protest of the Trump administration’s actions.

“Diversity is what they mainly preach about,” said Mayra. “If I’m going to this school, I want to feel comfortable, especially since I’m a minority.”

At first, Mayra had not considered Eastern because she was focused on bigger schools.

“I was never exposed to smaller schools, like Eastern,” said Mayra. “I was told about University of Michigan, Michigan State, Wayne State, the local schools. But I feel like if you’re someone who prefers a smaller campus and somewhere close enough to go home, but far enough to stay there to become independent, then Eastern is a good choice.”

Daniela Garcia, Mayra’s older sister, who graduated from Detroit Cristo Rey in 2016, agrees that Eastern is a great choice that is often dismissed by people who aren’t familiar with the school.

“Don’t listen to what others say because the majority of people who say that the school is this and the school is that, they haven’t even visited the campus,” said Daniela.

Mayra said once she actually visited campus, she realized it could be a good choice for her.

“When I visited Eastern, I’d thought I’d hate it and that it would be an ugly school, but it’s not,” she said. “I love it there. I love walking around. It’s peaceful and I feel safe.”

Feeling comfortable and finding the college that’s best for them is key for high school students, Mayra and Daniela said. College is much more than just academics, Daniela said, so students should find a school culture that they like.

“Don’t just go to school for school,” she said. “Have fun, be part of clubs, have a social life.”