How to Help Latinos Succeed in College
The start of every school year brings a mix of emotions for me. This year is no exception. I’ve enjoyed seeing our students again and kicking off a new semester, but I’ve also grieved over those that aren’t coming back this fall due to finances, grades, family situations, or all of the above. Those stories have become a common part of the beginning of the year too. I always have to remind myself that this is a problem across the board, not just in Destino. Latinos have a very low graduation rate from college.
I ran across a blog post the other day that talked about Latinos with learning disabilities, but it went on to talk more broadly about Latinos and education in general. This paragraph really resonated with me:
“Well, let me say this…if a brown child doesn’t take an interest in education, it’s likely because they don’t feel that they have the right or power to claim that for themselves. Knowing you have the ability to choose your own path isn’t something that everyone is born into…it’s something that has to be instilled. It’s the responsibility of parents, teachers and authority figures to instill these behaviors and there’s no way for that to happen if we’re consistently doubting the abilities of our brown youth. We have to look beyond the stereotypes about brown children and find ways to instill a strength in them that allows them to believe in themselves.”
Two thoughts came to mind after reading this. The first was that I want Destino to be a place where students find people who speak worth and dignity into their lives. Our student director talks of wanting all the Destino leaders to be able to see into people and call out the ways that God has uniquely designed them. When a student knows their worth, a person created in the image of God, they will have a better chance at succeeding in college and life in general.
The second thought that came to mind was that we as a ministry need to get better at helping students move from feeling helpless in their circumstances to taking an active role in their destiny. Their locus of control needs to move more towards understanding that they can take control of their lives and not blame the outcome of it on fate or, even worse, on a person. Now, as believers we know that God is sovereign and is in control of our lives, but he does invite us to participate in it too. Latinos can be so fatalistic that they don’t fight for and push for a better reality for themselves. I think this influences how well they do in college.
My prayer is that when a student gets involved in our ministry, the likelihood that they will graduate college would increase dramatically. Not because of our awesome academic counseling or training in life skills, but because we would help them understand and fully experience the strength and dignity they have in our Savior. My desire and hope for them is that this would fuel much of how they pursue their education and would also influence how they make a million other life choices in the future.
So, in what ways are you seeing into and calling out the strength and worth latent in your Latino students?
How are you helping move Latino students to have more of an active role in their circumstances?
I pray we are able to empower our Hispanic students to fully live out who God has created them and called them to be.