Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Nevada High School Students Meet a ‘Latino Cohort’ to Follow

Latino students who attend Western Nevada College are visiting schools to promote the benefits of higher education, presenting themselves as role models for students they hope to see follow in their footsteps.

“The younger students look up to the students from the college. They get inspired when they listen to their testimonials. They definitely listen to the message, and it gives them hope to see Latino students succeed in college,” Lupe Ramirez, coordinator of the college’s Latino Outreach, said in an article published Sunday in the Nevada Appeal. 

Ramirez told the news outlet the college students — a group known as Latino Cohort — are making a positive difference in the community. “They are getting something good out of their education, and they want to pass it along to other kids that haven’t heard about college. The students enjoy the opportunity to talk about their college experiences and hope that other students follow their footsteps.”

The Cohort was established at the college in 2010 to promote enrollment, course completion, and degree attainment among Latino students. It’s tailored to first-generation Latino students with a goal of helping them overcome potential barriers — cultural and other — to attain an associate degree and be prepared to continue their education at a four-year school or move into the workforce. 

The program is introduced to high school seniors during the college’s “Bridge to Success” outreach program, according to WNC’s website. The students who apply to the program have the opportunity to be part of “Summer Bridge,” an intensive, eight-week summer session where they complete any developmental English classes they may need, and a 3-credit class on college success. For most Cohort students, English is not their first language.

In Nevada, 19.6 percent of public school students — more than 84,000 — were enrolled in programs for English language learners in 2011-12, the most recent figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. In Carson City, home to WNC’s main campus, 21.3 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino. 

Latino Cohort students are significantly outpacing the average college student in semester-to-semester course completion rates — 94 percent compared to 64 percent, the website states. The group also boasts a much higher graduation rate of 52 percent, compared to the average community college completion rate of 22 percent.

The group also does outreach to parents. Speaking recently at an elementary school, Latino Cohort member Maria Diaz told parents not to worry about their children being isolated because of language barriers. 

“We let the parents know not to be afraid to let the students come here because I know most of them don’t speak English, and they feel that coming to college, they don’t have anyone to talk to and there is a language barrier,” Diaz said. “Knowing that there is the Latino Cohort program (that) has bilingual staff, the parents actually feel comfortable coming to the campus.”