A $3.2-million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will create pathways for Latino transfer students at California State University, Northridge to careers in high-demand fields.
The grant will fund a new program that will provide academic support for students from Latino and low-income communities at two Los Angeles-area community colleges — College of the Canyons and Los Angeles Pierce College — who are interested in attending CSUN and pursuing careers in animation, graphic arts/multimedia design, accounting, business administration, marketing, nursing and manufacturing systems engineering. CSUN received the grant, in part, because it has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education.
“This is a very important grant for CSUN,” said Juana Mora, Title V (Hispanic-Serving Institutions) project director who will oversee the grant’s efforts. “It allows us to develop stronger relationships with two major schools that send students to our campus. We will be sharing funds and resources with the two campuses as we all work with the students to help prepare them for a quick and easy transfer to Northridge. We’ll work together to identify students who are interested in transferring to CSUN, give them tutoring in English and math if they need it, and help them out when necessary with the transfer process.”
In addition, Mora said, the project will provide the community college students with CSUN student mentors, who can give them insights into life on the Northridge campus, and faculty mentors once they are at CSUN.
“The goal,” she said, “is to provide Latino students and students from low-income communities with the support they need so that they can graduate in a timely manner and enter fields in which Latinos are significantly underrepresented. The students we are targeting bring cultural and linguistic capital and diverse experiences that can only enrich and broaden the reach of the fields we are hoping they go into.”
The project’s efforts to increase the diversity of workers in the targeted fields will begin early, with outreach to local high schools to educate students about the possibilities of careers in animation, graphic arts/multimedia design, accounting, business administration, marketing, nursing and manufacturing systems engineering.
Once the students are in community college, they will be encouraged to take part in learning and support communities, peer tutoring and mentoring, and student exchange opportunities. There also will be opportunities for faculty on all three campuses to work together to share best practices and to develop transfer plans that fit the needs of their campuses.
“For some reason, these are careers that Latinos are not going into,” Mora said. “Sometimes, kids don’t consider those careers because they require math, and they aren’t ‘good’ at math. Other times, the obstacles are cultural ones. As Latinos, they’ve never considered the possibility that those careers were open to them. I am sure there are other reasons as well. What we want to do is change the perception and show them that they can go into those careers, and succeed.”