This week I had the honor of presenting at National Hispanic University in East San Jose. NHU is hosting their annual Summer Bridge program for Trio students. This term refers to those students who are:
- from low-income families
- the first in their family to attend a university and
- in college classes for the first time
What’s unique about the NHU model is that its founders understood that leaving family to attend school far from home is culturally very difficult for Latino students to do. Add to that the financial burden of attending college and the odds that a young Latino or Latina will leave home to pursue higher education are indeed very small. Speaking from personal experience, I can share that when I was accepted to U.C. Berkeley and awarded the scholarship to do so, my community in Colorado was less than supportive. “You’re really going to leave your mother?” was a question I fielded more than once. That’s why bringing the university to the barrio is a brilliant solution. Now, “trio” students can pursue their four-year degree, while remaining at home, making higher education suddenly much more accessible and realistic.
Martha Escalera, Arnufo Sanchez and the rest of the Student Success team do amazing work there. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with the incoming freshman and the high school students that will follow in the future. I hope to return again soon to be part of your very special, culturally-relevant, inspiring program!