Latino Academic Success Forum

College of Southern

Erica Romero and Michael Richards


By Chris Moxon

College of Southern Nevada Latino students comprise nearly 25 percent of the total school’s population. According to Excelencia in Education, an organization that gathers data and analytics to identify trends, CSN has the nation’s highest graduating rate for Latinos pursuing two-year degrees in science and technology. However, Latino graduating rates are lower compared to Caucasians.

“It’s an underserved population,” says Erica Romero, executive director of Western States Legislative Affairs for Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Romero says there needs to be a stronger incentive for Latinos to continue college. For example if a guarantee of federal aid for two years was offered, it would provide funds to earn an associate degree.

Romero explains that Latinos are more likely to work while attending college, delaying graduation, and resulting in students losing interest in finishing school. This is just one of many obstacles that Latino students face.

Olivia Varay, a Latino student at CSN, works and attends school. Varay says that careful planning, scheduling things months in advance, and using her downtime effectively are essential for her success. Though there are struggles, improvements are being made.

“Achieving The Dream,” is described by Dr. Michael Richards, president of CSN, as an initiative that will transform CSN. It involves 40 or more faculty and staff, and its purpose is to detect and eliminate obstacles for students.

Richards continues, “Everybody’s probably encountering some barrier or another to their success here. We want to do what we can to remove those impediments and help students to succeed.”

Elizabeth Rodriguez, a first-year CSN student, says that her obstacles are paying for school. “My dad’s the one actually paying for it, so it’s pretty difficult.” It’s a strain on her father’s wallet.

Other changes that future Latino students may see in the next two years are: mandatory orientations, more bilingual marketing efforts, and more flexibility in course offerings to meet demand. Additionally, scholarships and financial options are being explored.

“There is a lot of money available to go to school; we can help,” Richards says.

The Presidents Forum on Latino Academic Success was held on November 8, 2012 at the Cheyenne campus. The forum was designed to encourage meaningful discussions between students and faculty to improve success of Latino students at CSN.

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