Cerro Coso Community College

HACU: Building America’s Future

L to r: Professor Lucilla Gonzalez-Cirre, Ashley Douglas, Ruby Horta, Tanya Frandsen, and Professor Laura Vasquez.

Professors Laura Vasquez and Lucila Gonzalez-Cirre took a group of students to the annual Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) conference in October. The theme for the conference was “Championing Hispanic Higher Education Success: Building America’s Future” held in Atlanta, Georgia. This year’s conference drew nearly 1,800 attendees for the three-day career development and networking symposium designed to build the career skills of undergraduate students.

An increasing number of Hispanic students are entering college, but not many of them finish. What can we do to retain these students? Empowering the next generation of minority students to accomplish their full potential by working together to implement a more intentional approach is important.

“Hispanic students are not the only ones unprepared,” stated Professor Vasquez. “Faculty have not been fully prepared to meet the needs of minority students. We need to champion diversity with an inclusive strategic plan.” Professor Gonzalez-Cirre agreed, “rather than asking if Hispanic and other minority students are college ready, we must support faculty and staff to be more student ready.”

HACU’s Annual Conference provides a unique forum for the sharing of information and ideas for the best and most promising practices in the education of Hispanics. Students had a great time and learned a lot in the process. They met with several potential employers, and attended workshops throughout the day on effective interviewing and resume building skills, successfully managing their first corporate job, and money management skills. All agreed, meeting with such a diverse group of potential employers was the most exciting part of the trip.