¡Bienvenido a Armstrong!

(Dec. 6, 2012) According to the United States Census, the Hispanic/Latino population has increased greatly over the past four years and continues to do so. Georgia and the southeastern U.S. specifically are expected to see major growth in the Latino community in the near future. Armstrong's Hispanic Outreach and Leadership at Armstrong (HOLA) program has long seen the need to create a clear college path for Latinos in the area and continued to do so with its second annual program for high school students and their families, Domingo Universitario (University Sunday), held on campus on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Domingo Universitario is a bilingual program that helps bring 10th, 11th, and 12th graders and their parents to Armstrong to participate in a variety of workshops that help students succeed in the college application process and demystify the financial aspects of college for the parents, many of whom do not speak English. With the help of the regional educational initiative CAMINO—College Access Mentoring Information and Outreach—Armstrong partners with Savannah State University, Savannah Technical College, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, and many other community organizations to reach Latino students in their schools and encourage them to bring their parents and siblings to Domingo Universitario, so the entire family is involved in the transition from high school to college.

“The CAMINO partnership effort has allowed Armstrong to collaborate with educational partners and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to reach families in the area,” said Melody Rodriguez, director and founder of HOLA and an Armstrong graduate herself. “Throughout Domingo Universitario, we were able to assist students and parents with in-depth college preparedness sessions focused on the admissions processing step, the financial aid search, and essay writing. Students benefit from these services tremendously as they are largely first-generation college students, and this process is often overwhelming and confusing for them. Domingo Universitario is just one of the many ways we can collaborate and foster success for Latino students.”

Families came to Armstrong not only from Chatham County but from many other counties in the area as well as South Carolina. Everyone learned a lot from the program.

“We were talking about the ACT and the SAT, and we also talked about what colleges and universities look for and how you can be getting ready,” said high school senior Rocio Librado from Reidsville, Ga.

“It helped me find out about what I need to do and how to get ready to sign up for a scholarship and build my resume,” added Vanessa Ramos, also a senior from Reidsville.

As the day came to a close, the final event was a question-and-answer session for the Domingo Universitario participants and current HOLA students at Armstrong. As the discussion progressed, the parents' questions focused on how the students coped with leaving home and how they balance academics with the newfound freedoms of college. Clearly, they were looking ahead to their children joining the ranks of college freshmen on the path to a degree, thanks to the help of Armstrong's Domingo Universitario.