May 3rd, 2011 at 11:25 am
When the topic of education and Hispanics comes up in a conversation, eventually it often drifts to undocumented students. I am not here to solve the issues that arise when students are undocumented, but I am here to say that as Christ followers, we are called to love all people in the name of Christ… even undocumented students.
The other day, I was visiting with Elizabeth Tamez, associate director of enrollment services at the Baptist University of the Americas and director of Nueva Generation3 Hispanic training effort. During our chat, she shared several important resources that can help parents, church leaders and friends know how to help a student still gain an education even if her or she is undocumented.
A few of the websites that Elizabeth shared are
- Texas Baptists Hispanic Education Initiative
- Coaching on the college process
- Nueva Generación3 – Training a New Generation of Hispanic Leaders
- The Non-documented student guide to higher education
“For non-documented students, the best way to help them succeed is by providing this empowering information from the websites,” Elizabeth said. “In Texas, students who were in a Texas high school for 3 years before entering college have by law access to enrollment. Churches can help undocumented students navigate the process as there is often fear of the unknown, and also it is an uphill battle in trying to navigate the higher ed system, especially when student-workers do most of the application intake and are un aware of the details it entails to process an application from an undocumented student.
Since undocumented students do not have access to Federal financial aid (FAFSA) like the average college student does, Elizabeth said that churches can provide scholarship funds or job opportunities for the students so they can pay for their education.
Though Texas and other states have laws that allow for undocumented students a chance to get a college degree if they have been in a public high school for a certain number of years (varies in each state), these students cannot put their degree to use after graduation since they are undocumented.
“Most importantly, continue voicing to your government representatives the urgency to pass a measure such as Dream Act,” Elizabeth said. “Currently when an undocumented students graduate with their degree, the students cannot put their degree to use in the workforce since they do not have permission to work in the US.”
Elizabeth also has a wealth of information for undocumented students through her organization Nueva Generation3, the Hispanic training effort mentioned above. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (469) 371-7412.
Texas Baptists Resources
Through the past several years, Texas Baptists has worked extremely hard to connect and gather resources for Hispanic students, to lobby for their support in the Texas Legislature and to help created channels that will lower the high Hispanic dropout rate. Here are a few of the programs and resources that have been put in place or gathered from other organizations so that you and Hispanic families may have the tools needed to help Hispanic students or other at-risk students succeed.
College preparation doesn’t start when a student is a senior of high school, but years before. This website by American Council on Education and Lumina Foundation for Education will walk you through how to help a student prepare for college at each step of the education process. The website also shows four important principles to cling to on the college journey and explains important aspects like FAFSA, college costs and more. All this information and more can be found at the Know How 2 Go website.
For individuals who never completed high school, their door to hope can come through a church or family helping them gain their General Equivalency Diploma, also known as the GED. If an individual can pass this standardized test, job opportunities will grow and the next step, a college degree, is finally in reach. Texas Baptists has partnered with GEDonline to provide a FREE GED preparation course, and churches can get involved with helping individuals in their community gain a better life through education by hosting a GED prep center. Texas Baptists has a simple training method that can be viewed at GED Prep “U” website. The only cost to the church is $13.50 per test prep book, which each student will need six different prep books in order to properly study for the exam.
College can be an expensive endeavor, but not an impossible one when scholarships are applied to the cost. Texas Baptists Hispanic Education Initiative has created a list of more than a hundred organizations offering scholarships to Hispanic and at-risk students. To see the exhaustive list, visit the scholarship webpage.
Choosing a University Matrix
HEI has created an Excel spreadsheet where each family can drop in information from potential universities to help them process what university may be the right one for their student. Families can in put potential costs, distance from home, closeness of family, type of program, possibility for job opporunities once a degree is completed, housing options, university demographics and more. To download the spreadsheet for free, visit the HEI webpage.
All the information and more mentioned above can be found at the Texas Baptists HEI webpage. Also, if you have additional questions, e-mail Gus Reyes, director of the Texas Baptists HEI, at email@example.com
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