‘Latino Initiative’ is Launched

Moira Rogers, Ken L. Nafziger, and Silvia Romero discuss the initiative
Left to right: Moira R. Rogers, associate professor of Spanish at EMU, and Kenneth L. Nafziger, vice president for student life, discuss the Latino student initiative with Silvia Romero of the Migrant Education Program at an Apr. 30 information meeting on campus.
Photo by Jim Bishop

EMU has launched a program initiative as part of its mission to increase student diversity on campus while serving the local community.

At an information luncheon held Apr. 30 on campus, EMU staff introduced a strategic plan to recruit and retain more Latino students from Rockingham, Augusta, Page and Shenandoah counties and the cities within those boundaries.

Around 30 representatives from profit and non-profit programs and agencies that serve the Latino community attended the luncheon meeting.

“EMU has developed a strategic plan that we believe the Latino community will find appealing and that makes EMU’s tuition more affordable in the Latin cultural context,” said Melody M. Pannell, director of multicultural programs and moderator of the information meeting.

Michelle R. Hensley, director of financial assistance, noted that tuition will be discounted on a sliding scale based on the students’ expected family contribution as determined by the application for federal student aid.

“The discount that EMU provides, combined with the possibility of federal assistance, will make EMU’s tuition quite competitive with state-supported schools,” Hensley said. “EMU will also actively seek support from local and national organizations who might provide funds for this program. Any scholarships or grants provided by these programs would be applied to the EMU contribution so that more students can benefit,” she added.

“EMU will strive to integrate the students into the total campus life,” Pannell said, noting that her multicultural services office will coordinate a special orientation with this aim.

Other program efforts Pannell cited include a Latino Heritage Month, interaction with the local community and other activities that will help the Latino students become contributing members of the EMU community. Academic help will be provided – as it is for all students – through the Academic Support Center, she pointed out.

“For those students who are academically prepared for university work but for whom language is a barrier, there’s the possibility of participating in the Intensive English Program at EMU and then bridging to the full undergraduate program,” she said.

“EMU already has the advantage of a cross-cultural program requirement for all students,” said Laurie W. Miller, director of undergraduate admissions. “This initiative provides an additional wonderful opportunity right at our doorstep to broaden relationships and increase student diversity.”

Naomi R. Gorton, who speaks Spanish, is the admissions counselor who will work with the prospective students. She introduced herself to the group and said she “looks forward to working with local Latino students who inquire about EMU.”

Silvia Romero, who works with the Migrant Education Program in Harrisonburg, said she “wanted badly to enroll at EMU” in 1997 but felt she didn’t have the financial resources and so welcomes the Latino initiative as one way of making the university accessible to more students.