President’s Forum Highlights Hispanics as Part of Heritage Month

President Richards and Trehixi Galvan-Meza at the forum

President Richards and Trehixi Galvan-Meza at the forum

By H. Patrick Lombardo

Annual celebrations marked National Hispanic Heritage Month around the country and on campus. Important topics facing Hispanic students at the College of Southern Nevada were discussed during the President’s Forum on Sept. 25.

“I think this is important because it gives us a chance to pause and reflect on what this institution does to serve these groups,” said Dr. Michael Richards, president of CSN. Richards spoke about helping Hispanic students, which he called an underrepresented group at the College.

According to John Bearce, who works for the Office of Institutional Research for the College, approximately 26 percent of CSN students identify as Hispanic as of Fall 2013. Although enrollment at CSN has fluctuated Bearce said, “The Hispanic population as a percentage is increasing.”

The forums are held throughout the year to highlight issues of diversity concerning the CSN community.

Trehixi Galvan-Meza, president of CSN’s chapter of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa, spoke at the forum about the challenges faced by Hispanic students at CSN. Galvan-Meza said that poverty is one of the biggest issues. Transportation, childcare and purchasing books and supplies can also be difficult for some of these students.

“It’s difficult for them to feel they can compete with a student who is more prepared than they are,” Galvan-Meza said.

Dr. Patricia Castro, dean of the Ralph and Betty Engelstad School of Health Sciences at the College, spoke at the forum about the cultural barriers Hispanic students face especially when English is spoken at school and Spanish is spoken at home. She said that families have to become more engaged. “The home has to support what they’re doing in the educational setting.”

Each year Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

CSN followed suit by celebrating with a Latino student mixer, a screening of the documentary “The Dream is Now” focused on immigration reform and an art auction with a scholarship benefit that were held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

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