Angel Gonzalez & Moises Orozco Villicana, Ph.D.
March 1, 2018
Since this past summer, we have led a marketing initiative that features Latinx community college students involved with the NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP). Over the past months, we have gleaned valuable insight into how community college students learn about NUFP and most importantly how their involvement in NUFP has served as a transformative and affirming experience for them. A majority of NUFP participants attend a four-year institution, but we saw the immense value of shedding light on the impact NUFP has among Latinx community college students, especially since community colleges serve as a primary entry-point for Latinx pursuing higher education.
In our work with the Community College Division-Latinx/a/ox Task Force (CCD LTF), we were able to partner with Latinxa/ao/ox Knowledge Community and NUFP leadership to identify ways to support and expand NUFP within public two-year institutions. Equally important, we wanted to capture and showcase the inspirational accounts of Latinx community colleges involved with the NUFP. These stories of excelencia directly challenge the deficit assumptions associated to Latinx community college students. Through this initiative, we wanted to increase the visibility of incredibly driven Latinx community college students within NASPA.
Our call for spotlights was met with enthusiasm by both NUFP participants and mentors. As of February, we have successfully secured seven Latinx community college students that have been NUFP participants, which hail from California, Utah, New Jersey and Illinois. Of the seven participants, 6 are NUFP alums and 1 is a current NUFP member. All participants were asked to answer seven open-ended questions on how they learned about NUFP and their overall NUFP experience. Through their responses, NUFP serves as a powerful network of support and mentorship. For example, Laura Yanez describes how her mentor gave her the unconditional support to overcome the recent presidential election. She said, “I believe one of the most helpful experiences of being a NUFP was mentorship. I remember that after the presidential elections I was very vulnerable, and I had many other conflicting feelings that were very hard to cope with. My mentor was always there for me when I needed them most.” Many of these accounts can be seen in all seven of Latinx participants in this initiative.
We also asked all seven to summarize their NUFP experience in one word. The words they used were—inspire, educational, life-changing, terrific, amazing, rewarding, and unique. These words help capture the transformative capacity of the NUFP experience, especially among community college students. The need to increase access of NUFP among community college students is paramount. We especially want to broaden this type of life-changing opportunity to underrepresented students.
We hope that the spotlights provide the students an opportunity to share parts of their educational journey and the impact this program had on their growth and success. Representation matters and being able to highlight stories that are often overlooked is crucial for our profession. We believe that colleagues will begin to pay close attention to the ways we can grow and address the gaps within our own organization. Our students and colegas are overrepresented at the community college. It is time for us to pay more attention and further validate their experiences. To help increase participation of Latinxs community colleges, we encourage you to serve as a NUFP mentor and be the mentor for the next generation Latinx professionals.
About the Authors:
Angel Gonzalez currently serves as the Assistant Director for Academic Retention and Success at Shoreline Community College.
Dr. Moises Orozco Villicana currently serves as the Director of Enrollment Management for the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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