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Mentor program supports Latinx students

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Jan 29, 2020

As a first-generation college student from Libertyville, Jose Mendoza felt more than a little nervous when he started at College of Lake County (CLC) last fall. From registering for courses to writing term papers, navigating college culture created as many questions as answers.

CLC’s Éxito student success program stepped up to help Mendoza and the hundreds of other Latinx students connect to college resources and workshops through a culturally relevant lens with the support of professional mentors.Photo of Latinx students playing Loteria gam Generously funded this year by the Steans Family Foundation and College of Lake County Foundation, Éxito started out as a pilot project in 2015. Since then, it has proven to improve retention rates for Latinx students compared to those not involved in the program.

Photo (from left): Students Citlalli Vega and Marlene Segoviano enjoy a millennial version of Lotería, a bingo-type of game, at a Jan. 24 Éxito meeting that also included a presentation on applying for scholarship

Éxito, appropriately named after the Spanish word for “success,” helps Latinx students persist in their studies so they graduate or transfer to a four-year university. More than 20 college and local community members volunteer as mentors to help students make it through their first year at CLC and beyond.

“Beyond personal development, Éxito gives students the opportunity to network with other students and professionals at social and cultural events,” said Carolina Rodriguez, CLC multicultural retention coordinator. “Mentors speak both Spanish and English, giving students a sense of belonging and support outside the home. The mentors and academic coaches give good advice about applying for financial aid, deciding which courses to take and where to plug in socially, driving student commitment to success.”

Beyond academic support, students like Mendoza appreciate the opportunities to learn and meet other students at the monthly Éxito workshops. “At one session, a mentor showed a graph illustrating how a person with at least a two-year college degree earns more than someone with only a high school diploma,” Mendoza said. “It really shows how a college education can impact your quality of life.”

The mentors and tutors in the Éxito program helped first-year business student Maria Fernandez sharpen her writing skills, apply for scholarships and expand her social life. “When I started here last fall, I thought everybody went to class and then went home or to a job,” said Fernandez. “Éxito hosts many social activities, including game nights. It’s been a fun way to meet new people.”

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About College of Lake County:

College of Lake County is an innovative community college in Lake County, Ill. that transforms lives with its variety of accessible, quality education options. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, College of Lake County provides affordable options in a state-of-the-art setting close to home. A large student network, with small class sizes, provides advantages to our students on a career-related program or a path toward a transfer degree. We’re proud to serve the diverse needs of our community and student body. Connect to your future today at College of Lake County.