Estudiantes Unidos

GCC program helps Latino students become advocates for change

“I’ve learned about the different opportunities and scholarships offered at GCC for Latino students. Working together and listening to ideas different than your own can be challenging; planning our program’s events taught me to communicate clearly and to keep an open mind. The things I’ve learned in this program will help me in all my future endeavors,” said Zuleyka Silver, philosophy major, has been in the program since Fall 2017.

Estudiantes Unidos is a program at Glendale Community College that works to help Latino students of all stripes and backgrounds become advocates for change. It’s a program with no small potential footprint either, with close to a third of the campus population at GCC being Latino.

The program was born just a few years ago in Spring of 2016 and created by Nane Kakosian, student services technician, and Hoover Zariani, manager.

“We want to empower our Latino students to become advocates for future incoming students,” Kakosian said.  She explained that she “hopes to encourage them to be more active in campus.”

Since it is a year-long program, students must register during the fall and complete the program by the end of the spring semester. However, while attending this program the students get a stipend that helps them work with their campus project. In the fall the students can get up to $250 and in the spring it can be up to as much as $350. It all depends on the level of participation, the organizers said.

Like most programs at GCC, there is a process to be accepted and steps the student has to follow to complete the program. For Estudiantes Unidos, it is a three-part process to get through it. The student must meet with college administrators every Thursday, once they have their groups ready the students brainstorm and choose a project they would apply by the end of the fall semester. The final step is to implement the project in the Spring semester.

Arlina Locke, a psychology major, has been involved in the program since Fall of 2017. Locke has received a handful of invaluable benefits from the program like learning leadership skills, the feeling of belonging to a nurturing community, and the satisfaction of being productive and helping Latinos at GCC.

“This program has given me a deep appreciation of our differences and, more importantly, the similarities that bind us as a leadership program,” Locke said.

With Estudiantes Unidos, these students don’t just feel like they are making a change on the campus. They feel that the program empowers them to do the things they want to do, equips them with communication skills, and builds strong team-working abilities, which are all things that lead to success, not just while at college, but in life beyond it.

“I have learned it is important to get involved in your school community, to be an advocate in the things you strongly believe in and to work along with others, even if we all have different points of views,” Locke said.

Carolina Diaz can be reached at [email protected]