ACC Hosts Discussion on Latinos Pursuing Higher Education
Alvin Community College staff members participated in a discussion panel to talk about the issues Hispanic students encounter while trying to earn a college education.
The discussion, Latinos Pursuing Higher Education, was one of many events at ACC conducted through National Hispanic Heritage Month and was sponsored by the Student Activities Department. Panelists talked about their experiences as students in college and their path to working in higher education.
“For me, it was a family experience,” said Dr. Jessica Ranero-Ramirez, ACC director of College and Career Pathways.
As a first generation college student, Ranero-Ramirez’s parents and siblings assisted when she decided what program to pursue. They helped her move into her dorm and pitched in when she needed help with her courses.
“You take your family with you through the whole journey,” she said. “Those are the fondest memories I have.”
Michael Fernandez, ACC instructor for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, said his path to higher education was a meandering one that veered between the job site and the classroom. The most important mindset to have while working for an education is to keep at it and not give up, he said.
“You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” he said.
For Gabriela Leon, getting past the language barrier was an obstacle that she feared would affect her ability to earn an education. Leon serves as the ACC Financial Aid Director and encouraged students to not let those obstacles stop them.
“You can do it regardless of where you come from,” she said.
For Dr. Mary Jove, ACC Business Management chair, said students must find a sense of community and belonging on campus by becoming involved when and where they can.
One key strategy for any student is to know what resources they have and to make sure they use them.
“I really had to learn how to advocate for myself,” said Lilly Guu, ACC advisor and counselor.
The panelists said students to get to know their peers and to meet regularly with their instructors about their progress in class.
“You have to build relationships,” Fernandez said.
Students should explore scholarship opportunities, apply for Financial Aid and grants, determine their eligibility for veterans benefits and find out if their employers reimburse tuition expenses.
Many of the panelists said they found assistance and inspiration through work study programs.
Leon said she received a job as a work-study student and found the experience extremely rewarding because she was helping students through their educational journey the way she had received help from others, she said.
“It pressed me to want to help students,” Leon said. “It was inspiration for me to stay in higher education.”
Whatever the challenge and whatever the journey, the goal of finishing your education is an important one, Ranero-Ramirez said.
“Education is something that no one can take away from you,” she said.