“Connections” HSI launches program to serve Latino community

Mitchell Garcia-Buckley, Staff Writer

The Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) at Santa Rosa Junior College launched a program to highlight available aid. The HSI Connections Program aims to help students graduate in three years or less.

The program provides students with a sense of community and encouragement. Its administrators designed it for low-income and Latino students enrolled in at least 12 units a semester.

“They have shown me how to use every single benefit of the library such as the tutorial center, reserve desk and the printing,” said HSI student Otnit Arellano Jr.

HSI Project Director Juan Arias said, “They feel welcomed. Students are shocked to learn about all the support available for them: financial aid, scholarships, EOPS, counseling, student health services and more. They are surprised to see professors, staff and administrators who care about their future and want to see them succeed.”

HSI also added new classes to promote student progress. They have added two new English 307 classes, this summer compared to only one last summer, making three classes now available. These classes improve on college reading and writing.

HSI provides students with a counselor to help develop and stick to an educational plan. Counselors also help with morale and show students new areas to take advantage of.

“They have helped me to focus by being an encouraging community and letting me see education in a different way. New things I have tried are the tutorial center and MI CASA center,” Arellano said.

MI CASA (Multicultural Innovation Center for Academic Success & Achievement) is a space where Connections program students can drop in for help, use computers and printers and connect with other students in the program.

There are currently 61 students enrolled and 58 active in Connections. Financial struggles may hinder some students, however despite difficulties, many still succeed with the program.

Arias reflected on his most rewarding part of helping students. “Besides being able to build new relationships with students and watch them grow and develop, the most rewarding part about helping students is sharing all the opportunities available for them and watching them thrive, Arias said. “If you are able to provide a road map to students, they will have the opportunity to complete their academic journey.”