All in the Family
Recruiting Hispanic students to Angelo State often means reaching out to their entire families.
As a student assistant in the ASU Admissions Office, Edith Huerta knows that, so when she receives requests from prospective Hispanic students for campus tours, particularly tours conducted in Spanish, she realizes she has to impress more than just the students. Requests for Spanish tours are infrequent—usually only two or three a semester—but they hold a special significance to Huerta.
“We try to create a feeling of Grandma’s house. You’re comfortable and you’re safe. We’ve got friends and mentors, as well as adults working with students.”
“I enjoy giving tours as a whole, but the Spanish-speaking tours are more touching toward home,” the Bellville native said. “I can relate to them.”
Because her own parents speak only Spanish and struggled to understand all that a college education entails, Huerta includes information about the importance of earning a college degree. She also makes a point to introduce families to ASU’s Multicultural Center.
The Multicultural Center is at the forefront of ASU’s various Hispanic recruiting efforts. Its staff specializes in making families feel comfortable with the idea of their child going off to college.
“I found out that my parents call the Multicultural Center off and on to ask about me and how I’m doing,” Huerta said.
That is exactly the level of ease that Flor Madero, associate director for diversity initiatives, has been working to instill in the Multicultural Center staff so that students have a welcoming place to turn.
“We try to create a feeling of Grandma’s house,” Madero said. “You’re comfortable and you’re safe. We’ve got friends and mentors, as well as adults working with students.”
Clint Havins, associate director of admissions, recognizes the recruiting resource ASU has in the Multicultural Center. It helps his staff convey to prospective students that the university not only has support services, but also provides a sense of community.
“We have things that students want, and that makes recruiting easy,” Havins said.
Having current Hispanic students in campus leadership positions also helps with recruiting. The Student Government Association president and vice president are both Hispanic, as are the leaders of groups on the University Center Program Council and Homecoming Committee. Havins said seeing those student leaders speak at recruiting events helps prospective students feel more confident that they can truly become a part of the campus community.
Another role of the Multicultural Center is to fill the gap between the process of applying and being accepted for admission and then registering for classes, Madero said.
“For a lot of Hispanic students,” Madero said, “they start that process but they don’t complete it.”
One of the advantages of several Multicultural Center staff members is that they can relate to Hispanic prospective students. Many came from home environments similar to those of the new recruits, and they can share their own success stories when needed.
With that knowledge about what Hispanic prospects are going through comes innovations in recruiting. Madero said the Multicultural Center staff has been known to set up informational tables outside of local Catholic churches because they recognize prospective students and their parents will be leaving church when mass is over.
Another recruiting tool ASU uses is its Spanish-language website, though Madero acknowledges that many of the Hispanic families the university would most like to reach do not have internet access. As a result, the best way of reaching out to many prospective Hispanic students is by attending college fairs.
Both the Admissions Office and Multicultural Center staff set up ASU information tables at numerous college fairs around the state to lend a face and personality to the university. The Multicultural Center also opens its doors during ASU recruiting events to provide information to Spanish-speaking families and all others.
When one or more of the recruiting programs gets a Hispanic student interested in attending ASU, the next step is often to convince the family that it is a good idea, which leads back to the importance of campus tour guides like Huerta, who does so well that some of the visiting students even ask if they can “friend” her on Facebook.
“It’s a great feeling to know you’re a role model and a mentor,” Huerta said.
The feedback Huerta receives after Spanish tours helps her know that she is making a difference. She remembers the words from one tour group from the San Antonio area.
“The family told me how much it meant to them, the dad in particular,” Huerta said. “He said that before, he had not put much effort in his daughter’s plans for college, but now he understands.”