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As the nation’s demographics change, student populations at institutions of higher education are representing those shifts.
Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs, are federally designated in Title V of the Higher Education Act as an accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent student enrollment.
According to a story published by EdNC, data from national advocacy group Excelencia in Education found that nine colleges in North Carolina are “emerging” Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) — including Central Carolina Community College.
The data from Excelencia in Education found that Latinx students enrolled at CCCC make up about 18.3% — the third highest Latinx population in the state just behind James Sprunt Community College and Sampson Community College, respectively.
Jairo McMican, Dean of Student Learning at CCCC, said the community college has been expanding access and opportunities for its Latinx students.
“We are currently working on how to get more people into the education pipeline,” he said. “So then that way we can try to offer some more classes in Spanish and try to do things of that nature. So we go around the state doing a lot of presentations on equity, and how to be more equity-minded, and then also how to eradicate inequities. We talk about those hand-in-hand because you have to be able to do both to get more people into the educational pipeline so they can get into the workforce.”
One of McMican’s colleagues, Oscar Hernandez, the Coordinator of ESL Career Pathways, College and Career Readiness, said obstacles for Latinx students include the language barrier, technology and communication. But the college has bilingual staff and faculty.
“I think having bilingual people serving the ESL students is crucial for the program itself,” Hernandez said. “And it’s needed. The students really need it ... that kind of support in order to register for classes and in order for them to take the next steps.”
Yamil Parroquin, 18, is a first-year, first-generation Latinx college student from Siler City who has joined the Chatham Promise — a CCCC program that offers free tuition to high school graduates who have completed a set amount of courses from the community college. She has also joined the C-Step program — a direct transfer program to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after the first two years at CCCC.
Parroquin, who’s planning to study nursing, said she chose CCCC because it was the right path for her.
“I knew that if I went into a four-year school, my first two years would be pretty rough on me,” she said. “Just getting used to a whole different way of teaching, having to teach yourself and just being independent. With Chatham Promise, I get to stay home for two years and I feel like it’s smaller, it’s more one-on-one. And for me, for the career that I want to go into, I need to start off with a really good base and have really good grades and just keep up that momentum.”
McMican said the work the college is doing for Latinx students is imperative.
“Chatham County is blossoming,” he said. “There’s more students that identify as Latino or Latina that are coming into the county or that have been there and have never been served. We’re trying to figure out how to help them because it’s not only good for them, but it’s good for the whole community.”
News Intern Olivia Rojas can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @oliviamrojas.