Wayne Community College has joined a year-long initiative to help educational institutions better support their Latino students.
The college is one of 10 North Carolina community colleges invited to participate in “Avanza: North Carolina Community Colleges Advancing Latino Student Success.” This is the first cohort of the community of practice hosted by The Hunt Institute, LatinxEd, and The Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research.
“As our state’s Latino population has grown, so too has the population of Latino students attending our community colleges; however, only 22.2 percent of Hispanic North Carolinians have attained a postsecondary degree or credential, trailing the statewide average of 44.6 percent,” said Dr. Madeline J. Smith, The Hunt Institute’s director of higher education.
WCC was selected to participate because it is considered to be an “Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution.” Emerging status is assigned to institutions with Latino undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment more than 15% but less than 25%.
Over the course of a year, institutional leaders will receive technical assistance and policy support. Their goal is to build capacity to lead and innovate in order to advance access and attainment for Latino North Carolinians.
WCC’s team members are President Patty Pfeiffer, Vice President of Academic and Student Services Brandon Jenkins, Financial Aid and Veteran Services Director Katrina Lee, Foreign Language Instructor Bethanie Lister, and English Language Acquisition Coordinator Maria Abalo-Zarate.
The cohort’s first gathering was held March 28 at Forsyth Technical Community College.
The college teams learned about the importance of closing equity gaps for Latino students, and institutional and federal efforts to support Latino students. They also evaluated their current readiness to support Latino students and their vision for better serving and supporting Latino students, and discussed goals for their time in the program.
“As an emerging Hispanic-Serving institution, attending the Avanza event allowed us to network and share ideas and practices with institutions with similar enrollment portfolios, said WCC team member Lee. “In the future, we need to evaluate our processes through a lens that considers the diverse population we serve to ensure we are removing the obstacles to access instead of inadvertently creating additional barriers.”