ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) - Marymount University is one of the most diverse regional universities and even a small group of student ambassadors is a profile of the school's range of cultures.
"My roommate is Latina and she's from Mexico," explained Kirby Markicich, a junior at Marymount. She's from Franklin, Va., a small town near Virginia Beach where the population is about half white and half black.
Coming to Marymount was a culture shock for Kirby, but one that has helped open her mind. "Coming to Marymount, I feel like I've learned just as much from my peers that I have in class, "
She thinks universities should be able to consider race and ethnicity in their application process. So does Perla Braccio who grew up in Nicaragua and has Nicaraguan parents.
"I did want to experience diversity on campus and see people from difficult cultures. I think affirmative action is good," she said. Braccio thinks her ethnicity may have helped her get into Marymount, but does not believe it was the only factor.
Marymount has a "race blind" admissions process, meaning there's no race box to check. But Chris Domes, the vice president of student development and enrollment says the school does actively recruit minority students.
"We're going to schools that have large minority populations, Hispanic populations, African American populations. We are constantly making sure that those groups of students are working their way through our admissions procedure," said Domes, emphasizing the importance of a diverse student body.
A 2003 Supreme Court decision allows the use of racial selection to achieve a "critical mass" of minority students. But the Supreme Court now is more conservative, and could change course.
If the Supreme Court reverses itself on affirmative action and makes it illegal to consider race and ethnicity, Marymount won't necessarily have to follow the ruling because it's a private university. But students and administrators say that opinion could lead to a less rich learning environment at schools across the country.
"Since Marymount is so diverse, I think it really enhances our campus. The fact that I know people from all over the world really makes my college experience that much better," said Dana Mannarino, a junior from New York City.