Programs in place to attract, retain Hispanic students

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Eastern New Mexico University students, from left, Jazmin Loya, Daniela Garcia, Aric Serrano and Rey Coss work Friday to plan the annual Cinco de Mayo banquet that honors graduating seniors.

By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico

A national trend of growing Hispanic student populations hasn’t escaped eastern New Mexico’s institutions of higher learning.

Clovis Community College and Eastern New Mexico University offer programs and services designed to appeal and retain their growing Hispanic student population.

A recent national survey of 176 institutions noted 55 percent had special programs in place to recruit Latino students. Nearly 38 percent stated their institution had academic programs or services specifically focused on Latino students, and more than 35 percent responded that their school had specific student support services that targeted Latinos.

ENMU’s Multicultural Affairs office promotes cultural diversity and awareness throughout the campus, said Diana Cordova, Multicultural Affairs director.

Cordova said the cultural offices, which includes Hispanic affairs, help to make the university feel like a home away from home.

“You want to make the University more appealing to the students,” Cordova said.

“The offices offer our diverse student body with help in financial hardships, scholarships and internships,” Cordova said. “Communicating and networking with the students to see what they want or need is the most important part.”

Cordova said one of the events planned by the Hispanic Affairs office is Hispanic Heritage Month in September.

One of the most important duties of the Hispanic affairs office is to help ENMU staff understand the needs and diversity of their students, Cordova said.

ENMU is offering a conversational Spanish course/workshop to staff.

The eight-week course consists of two sessions said David Roybal, department secretary for Language and Literature at ENMU.

Clovis Community College continues developing programs to retain more Hispanic students.

From the fall of 2008 to the fall of 2009 the retention of Hispanic students was 38 percent, said Mona Lee Norman-Armstrong, director for the school’s Center for Student Success.

“The percentage of retained Hispanic students was higher than the 37 percent of all students retained by the college,” Norman-Armstrong said.

She said Title V funding has helped in the development student programs, although none are design specifically for one student group.

“Clovis Community College qualifies for Title V funding because 33 percent of the students enrolled are Hispanic,” said Mindy Watson, Title V project director.

Watson said the college has been able to experiment and develop programs for the students with Title V money. She said without the money the college would not be able to offer the program to the students.

One of those programs developed by Title V money is the Math Learning Center. Watson said 40 percent of the students using the program are Hispanic.

Another successful program available at CCC is the Adult Basic Education program, Lee said. She said ABE includes General Educational Development (GED) instruction and an English as a Second Language (ESL) course.

“These courses are free to the community,” Norman-Armstrong said. “They are for the entire community to use.”

Norman-Armstrong said 90 percent of the students enrolled in the ESL class are Hispanic and 10 percent are part of the 17 countries represented at CCC.

“Each year 1,000 people seek GED or ESL classes at CCC,” Norman-Armstrong said “Sixty-eight percent of those people are Hispanic.”

Currently a pilot program is being run with components of the ESL program implemented in the college’s developmental curriculum, Norman-Armstrong said.

Norman-Armstrong said 36 percent of the people who choose to continue their education after participating in the ABE program enroll at CCC.

“They have experienced first-hand helpful and friendly service offered at Clovis Community College,” Norman-Armstrong said.