On September 7, 2018, IUPUC hosted Exito Latino, a one-day event planned and sponsored by IUPUC, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, Seymour High School, Shelbyville High School, Cummins Inc., Makuta Technics, the Hispanic/Latino Scholarship Fund at Heritage Fund, and the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
In its second year, Exito Latino brought together 180 Latino students from area schools including Columbus East High School, Columbus North High School, Columbus Signature Academy, Seymour High School and Shelbyville High School. The focus was to identify and discuss the barriers faced by Latino students to completing high school and aspiring to attend college.
During the day-long program, students participated in a variety of sessions facilitated by young Latino leaders from businesses including Cummins, LHP Engineering, United Way, Taylor Brothers, and Columbus Regional Health, with topics ranging from balancing work and school to finding scholarships to networking, and more.
“We wanted to give these students some important information about what could happen after graduating from high school,” said Matt Souza, Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor at IUPUC, and organizer of the event.
Roughly 80 percent of students at this year’s event were Juniors and Seniors as compared to about 50% in the first year of the program. Of the Seniors who attended the event in 2017, 29 percent went on to attend post-secondary education, including nine at IUPUC.
In addition to the several breakout sessions, students were treated to a keynote address from 2015 IUPUC graduate Guadalupe Ibarra Ortiz who talked about coming to the United States from San Juan Tehuixtitlan, Mexico, adapting to a new culture, and overcoming many obstacles in order to obtain her college degree. While attending IUPUC, Ortiz was an early campus leader in L.O.V.E. (Latino/American Organization of Volunteers in Education) and Project Stepping Stone. She now works in a management position with Primerica in Indianapolis.
One of the most important aspects of the program according to Souza is providing Latino students with role models and a success roadmap to follow after high school. “We’re telling them that it’s okay to have a dream, and to pursue that dream,” said Souza.
Following the keynote address, students spent time visiting tables with representatives from a number of Indiana colleges and universities including IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College Columbus, Purdue Polytechnic, Franklin College, Hanover College, Butler University and Marian University.
“I think this is one of the most important student events that we host each year,” said Dr. Reinhold Hill, Vice Chancellor and Dean of IUPUC. “The support we have received from the community at large has been overwhelming, and we hope to continue this program long into the foreseeable future.”