Saludos desde Sacramento, California! Fostering Latino/a Success at American River College

Administration April 2024 PREMIUM

American River College, led by its first Latina President, prioritizes serving the Sacramento Latino/a community through outreach, support programs, and initiatives like Project Adelante. With a focus on inclusivity and access, ARC aims to empower students and foster a sense of belonging.

Serving the heart of the Sacramento suburbs, and as one of the largest community colleges in California with more than 30,000 students enrolled in the fall of 2023, American River College is focused on meeting our diverse community where they are and showing them the future that can be. 

I’m proud to be the first Latina President of American River College and to show up as my true, authentic self each and every day for our students, faculty, staff, and community. My own educational journey wasn’t a straight and smooth path forward, even though I had a supportive and encouraging family, as well as a series of mentors who helped guide me. It’s this personal experience that drives me to foster an environment where we actively serve Latino/a students and provide a campus familia to support their journey to success.

Almost a third of our campus identifies as Latino/a, and as we continue our focus on meeting the community where they are, we hope to see this number grow. We have put an emphasis on recruiting bilingual outreach staff who work directly with local high schools and community partners to provide a trusted resource for prospective students and staff to ask questions and receive guidance. Many of our local high schools and the community events we attend, such as Feria de Educación with Sac State and the Steps to College event hosted by the Consulate General of Mexico, directly serve our Latino/a community. These types of opportunities and organized outreach allow us to be a consistent presence that can make a direct connection with prospective students and their families. These connections allow us to share not just the benefits of a college education, but the support for Latino/a students available at ARC. 

On campus, we foster a community of support through our Latinx Center, which works closely with our UndocuScholar Resource Connection and PUENTE program. Led by faculty coordinators, these efforts are critical to creating that sense of community, of familia, for our students. Almost forty percent of our Latino/a students are the first generation in their family to go to college and more than forty percent are low income. These campus programs provide resources, direction, and connection for our Latino/a students. We are incredibly excited that the next year will see us expand significantly on our work as we begin our first major Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) grant initiative.

We received our HSI designation in 2021, after our Latino/a enrollment grew to over twenty-five percent and are incredibly grateful for the newly awarded HSI grant. This grant will help us focus on further serving our Latino/a students by supporting the implementation of Project Adelante, which is designed to improve equity on campus and help Latino/a students develop a sense of belonging. Project Adelante focuses on three main activities:  creating a space for Latino/a students; developing relationships with faculty, peers and the college community; and outreach to K-12 schools to emphasize that college is for everyone. 

As we focus on efforts to further reach out to K-12 students, we hope to continue to expand our Dual Enrollment program among local Latino/a high school students and increase the number of students taking high school and college-level classes concurrently. Many of our high school students, particularly those who are first-generation or low-income, may not see college as an available option, but through our work with partner high schools, we have been able to significantly grow the number of Latino/a high school students who are receiving college credit before they graduate. Students participating in Dual Enrollment are more likely to continue their college education and have improved academic outcomes. This effort provides improved educational opportunities and economic mobility by creating a pathway of access and preparation for students as they jump from high school to college. 

American River College also offers the largest community college apprenticeship program in California, providing access to formal occupational training that combines paid employment, on-the-job training, and job-related college instruction to develop skilled workers. Almost sixty percent of our apprenticeship program is Latino/a, a number that has been rising year after year for the past decade, providing a pathway to union jobs in areas like plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, and metal fabrication.

I’m inspired every day by the opportunity we have to make a difference in the lives of our community. Whether they are high school-aged, traditional, or returning students, American River College is establishing pathways to success for our Latino/a community. Together, we are creating opportunities for our students and building a campus culture where every student can see themselves succeed and take the next steps in their life journey.


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