Latino Students on Campus Speak Out

JOANN CHAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The Latino Issues Group met April 8 to open a dialogue about issues affecting Latino students at GCC and in the community.

This discussion group hoped to be the “beginning of dialogue between communities,” said Steve White, vice president of instructional services. Inputted information will help the school do better and improve, said White.?

Latinos make up about 25 percent of the student population at GCC — “the second-largest ethnic group at Glendale College [while the first-largest group is Armenian students],” said Ed Karpp, director of institutional research. “Latinos made up 24 percent of the credit student population and 23 percent of the non-credit student population in Fall 2003.” ?

The full room in the Los Robles Building, which included faculty and administrators of various ethnic backgrounds, and Latinos in the community, was presented with information about various issues that affect the Latino community, including the English as a Second Language (ESL) program, college services and the budget. ?

Karpp also gave positive statistics from a student satisfaction survey given to Latino students in spring 2003. The result of the survey showed that “80 percent of Latino students rated the quality of their education at GCC as excellent or good” and “85 percent of Latino students reported that they are making progress toward their educational goal.”?

For many of the Latino students in the community, English many not be their first language, which makes ESL an important department.

“Students from ESL 151 are more successful in English 101 than students from English 120 [Placement into English 101 is based satisfactory completion of English 120 or ESL 151],” said Young Gee, division chair of the credit ESL program. Nine ESL classes are transferrable to various colleges and universities. “There is an 87 percent retention and 68 percent success in credit ESL,” said Gee.

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In addition to the option of credit ESL, non-credit ESL is the fourth largest program at GCC, said Helen Merriman, division chair of non-credit ESL. “The goal [is to help students in these classes] cross over into the credit program, and eventually attend GCC for their associate’s degree,” said Merriman. ?

The Latino Issues Group can help program administrators to discover “how to best handle [the needs of] the population [they] are seeing now in the classes,” said Merriman. “Many of the Latino students need literacy.” An idea presented was creating a multi-level bilingual class to help students understand how English and Spanish work together. There are more than 100 sections of ESL non-credit and placement tests are available every week or two.?

There are many challenges students may face when attending college. Many students are first in their families to go to college, which presents the students’ families with the challenge of understanding the sacrifices they may have to make and the obstacles they may face, said White. These obstacles may be overcome — for example, students with learning disabilities (not only physical disabilities) are provided with a good program, White said.?

Adult Latinos also have the option of participating in non-credit and continuing education programs offered at the Adult Community Training Center, as discussed by Karen Holden, Dean of Non-Credit Education. Expansion in the area is currently being planned. It is important for the concerned community, including those who may have less representation (such as those who’s families rent in Glendale), to have input, said Holden, who hopes that “contact with [those in the group will lead to] contact with the rest of the community [to voice concerns].” ?

There are 15 percent or less Latino students who take advantage of financial aid assistance such as Cal Grants, which students do not have to pay back, said Pat Hurley, director of financial aid. The financial aid program has trained a number of students to help students to fill out forms. “Many want one-to-one assistance,” said Hurley. There is on-campus and high school financial aid outreach, though many college students live with their parents and are not picking up information.

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Other speakers were Kim Bryant, a student services coordinator on campus, who spoke about Hispanic and Latino outreach services — such as campus visits from high schools; Ann Ransford, director of communications, marketing, and the GCC Foundation, discussed ways to support the institution and activities by supporting the GCC Foundation, which provides information and raises money for the college and community through services such as the tour program, the planetarium’s Friends of the Science Center program and the Glendale Alumni Association.?

Anita Gabrielian, GCC Board of Trustees member, sponsored the event and Dr. John Davitt, president and superintendent of GCC, was the host. The variety of guests included members of the Board of Trustees, former mayor of Glendale, Frank Quintero, the district representative for Congressman Adam Shiff, Gaby Flores and members of the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS). ?

“This is the first of what I hope to be many meetings,” said Gabrielian. “[It gives GCC a chance to] dig deeper into other issues and continue to improve on issues in the community.”