Whether it’s being a first-generation college student, overcoming language barriers or facing other challenges, many young people in the Latino and Hispanic community find understanding the process of applying for financial resources and gaining admission to college a daunting prospect.
Prospective students already have plenty of questions. How do I apply? What resources are available to me? What will I major in? What’s life like on campus? Many of these questions require more than your typical college fair to become informed.
To meet this need, the Division of Enrollment Management’s CHANCE program provides Latino and Hispanic students the opportunity to engage in an intensive, five-day college preparatory immersion experience. The summer program exposes students to classroom experiences, leadership development, course registration, campus organizations, workshops, panel discussions and a college residence experience.
“Our main goal is to help these students envision themselves as university students,” said Dr. Amy Williamsen, Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “Many didn’t think they could make it to college, but every one of the 36 eligible high-school seniors in the 2017 program applied to college. That’s a tremendous success rate.”
Students experiment with the School of Nursing’s anatomy visualization table.
When the program first started in 2017, UNC Greensboro welcomed 61 Latino and Hispanic high-school students for three days. The camp was such a success that attendance nearly doubled, to 111, and the duration was extended to five days for the 2018 CHANCE.
“CHANCE has grown a lot in a year,” said rising junior and CHANCE mentor Celeste Cervantes. “I’m really proud we were able to take that leap. There’s more programming and activities and there’s a lot more time for them to explore their values and think about what’s important to them.”
Cervantes, an elementary education major with a focus on dual language, was one of 24 UNCG student mentors in 2018, 23 of whom were Latino or Hispanic.
“It’s really great to have an impact on these kids,” Cervantes said. “Many of them will be first-generation college students, so they have a lot of questions. They learn a lot from us about the college experience, and for us mentors, it’s a time for us to reflect on our own experiences.”
Students explore UNCG’s history in University Archives.
According to volunteers, the expansion of programming and the depth and breadth of the program will have an incredible impact on Latino and Hispanic youths. Miguel Angel Cruz-Morales, a junior nutrition major, said the program’s special attention to Latino culture is especially important.
“We’re engaging them more culturally, really taking it to another level with our cultural presentations,” Cruz-Morales said. “They can see their heritage and their culture represented here on campus. We held panels where currently enrolled students shared their experiences and demonstrated to the campers that their dreams can come true.”
Clinical Instructor, Lori Hubbard, leads a labor and delivery simulation with the School of Nursing’s SimMom during a mock nursing class for CHANCE students.
CHANCE is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Frontier Set initiative. As one of 31 Frontier Set schools, UNCG was selected to further a number of initiatives focused on identifying successful strategies to improve graduation rates, especially for low-income and first-generation students and students of color. In addition, the program has garnered University-wide support from faculty and staff in each academic and student support unit.
CHANCE is the only program of its kind in the state, and has received more than 250 applications from the mountains of North Carolina to the coast. To learn more, visit enroll.uncg.edu/uncg-chance.
Story by Victor Ayala, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane
Featured Image: UNCG Volunteers and CHANCE students take a tour of the UNCG wetlands.