DR. BETTY REYNARD — Camino a la Excelencia guides college’s Hispanic student outreach

Published 12:15 am Friday, August 7, 2020

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Lamar State College Port Arthur exists to serve its community. Preparing students to continue their education or enter the workforce IS our mission statement.

Being sure we provide access for potential students by identifying and targeting underserved populations for recruitment and an educational curriculum that promotes upward mobility tops the list of goals in our school’s 10-year strategic plan.

That’s what our new Camino a la Excelencia (Pathway to Success) program will do by creating momentum for the Hispanic community to embrace education as a necessity rather than an option.

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Nationwide, Hispanic college enrollment is at a new high.

Hispanics already are the largest ethnic group attending Lamar State College Port Arthur, nearly 35 percent of our students.

Hispanics also make up the same percentage of LSCPA’s most recent success stories — those who were awarded associate degrees and certificates in July’s virtual graduation ceremony.

We aim to build on those successes.

Did you know that nearly half of the school-aged residents of Port Arthur speak Spanish?

That’s according to a 2018 study by the U.S. Census Bureau, which also found that only half the Hispanics in Port Arthur have high school diplomas.

Lamar State College Port Arthur’s constant striving for the success of its students has always included helping first-generation students make the adjustment from high school to higher education.

A five-year, $2.8 million Title V grant from the Department of Education to Hispanic-serving institutions is providing initial funding for Camino a la Excelencia at Lamar State College Port Arthur, with the creation of the Excelencia Center at its core.

Redoubled recruiting emphasis and community engagement, such as a parents’ academy to introduce the college experience to those who lacked the opportunity, are a key part of the early plans.

The program will provide a bridge from high school to college for at-risk students, turning them into dedicated learners who are successful more quickly and consistently.

It will accomplish that by providing student support services tailored to meet student needs.

Camino a la Excelencia will employ success coaches and tutors as well as additional computer equipment and upgraded facilities to attract and retain students.

Dr. Betty Reynard is president of Lamar State College Port Arthur. She can be reached at reynardbj@lamarpa.edu.