Georgia Gwinnett College defies national trend with Hispanic outreach 

Uncle Rene Keria

Rene Keria participates in a "micro-class," designed to demonstrate the classroom experience. Keria's nephew is a GGC student. 

By Collin Elder

In a time where Hispanic enrollment in some higher education institutions is trending downward or stagnating, Georgia Gwinnett College’s (GGC) Hispanic student population continues to rise. GGC’s Nancy Ciudad-Simmons and her team are working to maintain that momentum.

A senior student success advisor with GGC’s Student Engagement and Success division, Ciudad-Simmons and her team have been supporting the Hispanic Achievers Committed to Excellence in Results (HACER) living-learning community, which provides academic and cultural experiences to Hispanic/Latino students as well as students who want to learn about Hispanic culture.

One of those experiences includes an event with a focus on the families of Hispanic students.

“Family is the most important thing in Latinx culture. Going to college, like every other big decision, is one that the family makes together,” said Ciudad-Simmons.

She explained that the HACER FUTURO event attracts Hispanic families to campus to experience student life entirely in Spanish. Faculty and staff members share information on academics, admissions, housing, financial aid and more. The event offers parents a chance to be immersed in the student experience by attending “micro-classes” that provide snapshots of classroom experiences.

One of the visiting families, Rene Keria and his nephew, Camilo Otuve, both Doraville residents, talked about the importance of having such an event for incoming students.

“When you’re making big decisions, you have to take the resources you can. This is a way for us to get as much information as possible before my nephew, Camilo, starts classes in the fall,” said Keria.

His sentiment is reflected by the Hispanic or Latino community at GGC according to a recent survey that GGC sent out to students. About 72% of survey participants showed a desire to learn more about Latino or Hispanic culture.

Students especially want to bridge the divide between culture and education, according to the HACER poll, which indicated 70% of participants wanted some form of cultural appreciation. Students across the country are preparing for college, and not all schools offer that level of diversity.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC), over the past three years, populations of Latinx students remained relatively stable for four-year programs.

By contrast, GGC has steadily trended upward. The college has recently met eligibility requirements as a Hispanic Serving Institute now that more than 25% of its student body is Hispanic.

“GGC is a gem for cultural experience. We’re working on giving students the exposure they deserve for their unique backgrounds, and on allowing students to share in each other’s heritage.”

Download photos from the HACER FUTURO event.

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