Whether it’s being a first-generation college student, overcoming language barriers or facing other challenges, many young people in the Latino and Hispanic community can find college a daunting prospect.
Prospective students already have plenty of questions. How do I apply? What resources are available to me? What will I major in? What’s life like on campus? Many of these questions require more than your typical college fair.
To meet this need, UNC Greensboro recently welcomed 110 Latino and Hispanic high-school students for the second annual CHANCE summer program, a five-day college immersion experience. The summer program exposed students to classroom experiences, leadership development, course registration, campus organizations, workshops, panel discussions and a college residence experience.
“Our main goal is to help these students envision themselves as university students,” said Dr. Amy Williamsen, one of the program’s organizers and head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “Many didn’t think they could make it to college, but every one of the 36 eligible high-school seniors in the 2017 program applied to college. That’s a tremendous success rate.”
This year’s CHANCE program saw a large expansion from its first effort in 2017, which hosted 61 students and lasted three days. The program was such a success that UNCG decided to double its efforts to make college a reality for Latino and Hispanic students. This year, CHANCE saw support from all over the university.
“CHANCE has grown a lot in a year,” said rising junior and two-time CHANCE mentor Celeste Cervantes. “I’m really proud we were able to take that leap. There’s more programming and activities, but what’s great is there’s a lot more time for them to explore their values and think about what’s important to them.”
Cervantes was one of 24 UNCG student mentors, 23 of whom were Latino or Hispanic. Cervantes is an elementary education major with a focus on dual language.
“It’s really great to have an impact on these kids,” Cervantes said. “Many of them will be first-generation college students, so they have a lot of questions. They learn a lot from us about the college experience, and for us mentors, it’s a time for us to reflect on our own experiences.”
CHANCE is funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Frontier Set initiative. As one of 31 Frontier Set schools, UNCG was selected to further a number of initiatives with the aim of identifying successful strategies to improve graduation rates, especially for low-income and first-generation students and students of color.
CHANCE is the only program of its kind in the state, and has received more than 250 applications from the mountains of North Carolina to the coast. To learn more, visit https://admissions.uncg.edu/visit/events/chance/.
Story by Victor Ayala, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications