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TCC to hold virtual Hispanic College Achievement Summit for prospective students

TCC to hold virtual Hispanic College Achievement Summit for prospective students

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Tulsa Community College is hosting a virtual Hispanic College Achievement Summit from 10–11:30 a.m. on April 9. Here, a TCC graduate uses her mortarboard to celebrate achieving a dream.

Tulsa Community College has tapped current students as ambassadors to area high-schoolers as it adds new outreach to students of color and lower socioeconomic status who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those still weighing their post-high school graduation options can hear about the experiences of students from similar backgrounds who have juggled work responsibilities and persisted through extraordinary circumstances to continue their education at TCC’s Hispanic College Achievement Summit, a virtual event set for 10–11:30 a.m. Friday, April 9.

Diego Wasdin has been working toward his associate degree for four years while he holds down a job. His ultimate goal is to become a pilot, but he’s studying entrepreneurship to be able to start his own business to finance pricey pilot training.

“They (new students) have plenty of opportunities at TCC, and it will be so much easier for them. It’s about motivation and wanting to get their higher education,” said Wasdin, who will be a panelist at the summit.

“I would put myself as an example. I came from Mexico four years ago. At that time, my English was not that good. It was difficult to get involved, but even though I had these obstacles, I managed to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Community colleges have been the hardest hit sector of higher education during the coronavirus pandemic, and TCC has not been spared.

Student enrollment declines were recorded during both the fall and current spring semesters, but Eileen Kenney, associate vice president of enrollment and retention, said things are looking up.

“We have seen declines mostly among first-generation college students and minoritized populations. We hear about job losses, about stresses at home such as lack of child care and other components of the COVID pandemic,” said Kenney.

“We can’t mitigate all stressors, but we do have a great financial aid team working with students, and CARES Act emergency grants are helping students.

“We have had a steady increase in applications lately. It’s as if people are coming out of this and waking up and thinking, ‘OK, what is my next step?’”

Data collected by the National Student Clearinghouse and the U.S. Census Bureau show that 48% of people from low-income households canceled their education plans during the pandemic — nearly double the rate of those from wealthy households.

TCC has had to change its recruiting strategy and increase social media and direct mail outreach to potential students. In-person visits to high schools are next to impossible because of COVID safety precautions, so TCC has resorted to hosting drive-through and parking lot events.

“We have had to think creatively. We’ve partnered with community organizations and are doing outreach to places of worship to see if we can provide information to their youth groups and families to ensure the message is getting out,” Kenney said.

“Tulsa Community College is such an economic driver for our community. Our worry is the economic impact on our community.”

TCC student Valeria Rodriguez said she plans to share with local high-schoolers how she overcame barriers to attend college because they’re even greater for immigrant students who can’t access federally funded aid.

“Being a first-generation immigrant is a common situation in my community, and there is a stigma against immigrant students,” said Rodriguez, who emigrated to the United States from Mexico when she was 1.

“I graduated from Union High School in 2019, and growing up — maybe not purposefully — but high schools didn’t have a lot of resources for people like me. It was up to me to search and hustle and try to find resources that were helpful.”

Rodriguez has already earned her associate degree and is enrolled in a TCC medical imaging program as well as Spanish interpretation classes to help her achieve her career goals.

“Dreams, like people, are completely different. I’m very ambitious.

“Through investigation and the help of some wonderful advisors at TCC, I learned about My Dream, a wonderful scholarship opportunity to students who are undocumented or under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a U.S. immigration policy),” Rodriguez said.

“We just have to pay for books and additional fees, and My Dream pays for the majority of our associate’s education.”

The Hispanic College Achievement Summit will offer students information about how TCC could help advance their college and career goals, ways to be involved on campus, and how to apply for financial aid and scholarships, including Tulsa Achieves and My Dream/Mi Sueño.

Register online at admission.tulsacc.edu/register/hispanicsummit or, for more information, contact TCC’s Office of Admission and Prospective Student Services at 918-595-8000 or by e-mail at admission@tulsacc.edu.

<&rdpStrong>Video: Tulsans gather for a Stop Asian Hate rally</&rdpStrong>

Jade Nguyen talks about what inspired her to organize the rally.

<&rdpStrong>Gallery: 2019 Tulsa Community College graduation</&rdpStrong>

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Staff Writer

I'm a projects reporter, examining key education topics and other local issues. Since joining the Tulsa World in 1999, I have been a three-time winner of Oklahoma’s top award for investigative reporting by an individual. Phone: 918-581-8470

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