Empowering Hispanic Students and their Families

ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning focuses on closing gaps in equity, opportunity, and achievement for underserved populations through purposeful investments and thoughtful advocacy efforts. On February 8, we partnered with Univision to participate at the Career and Education day sponsored by the Houston Hispanic Forum. Dr. Nancy Lewin and Lori Swartzendruber from the Center, along with Sauda Callahan from Client Relations, had the opportunity to talk with the students and families that attended.

That sounds great, right? But why do we put time and resources into these kinds of events? Research tells us that the more postsecondary schooling or credentials a person has correlates to higher income and lower unemployment rates.

Sauda Callahan shared, “As an Account Executive for the state of Texas my goal is to share knowledge that I feel will empower students and families and this is reason why I enjoy participating in events like this.”

For Center Senior Program Manager Lori Swartzendruber, “My overall purpose in this work is to help people have opportunities for a future with more open doors than closed. I enjoy participating in these events with the goal of getting information into the hands of students and their families that may not know where to go for help. We provide information about the ACT® Test, how to prepare for the test, and the importance of achieving a good score. Why is this important? It could translate into scholarship dollars depending on which school you apply to, or it can open doors to more selective schools. Having options is empowering, and I want to help students have as many options as possible for their future.”

Program Director Dr. Nancy Lewin provided four presentations at the February 8 event; two in English and two in Spanish. She shared information critical for parents to have so they are empowered to provide support and guidance to their children. The “Take Control and Plan for Your Future”/“Toma el control y planifica tu futuro” presentation included career options for post-high school graduation. The first part of each session included the various pathways to career and future and the importance of considering these options according to each student’s skills sets, interests, and personal and family context. These options included entering the workforce, taking a certification program, joining the military services, or selecting to enter a two-year or four-year college path. The optimal decision for each student is arrived at when parents/guardians are fully informed and have access to available resources.

During the second part of each session, parents found out more about the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA ) and the Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA ), and ways to finance post high school education or certifications. Free ACT resource links and the benefits of those resources were shared, with an emphasis on ACT’s new Spanish language resources  , which features articles, eBooks, and videos in Spanish to help students navigate their high school to post-secondary career.

Parents were encouraged to set appointments with their student’s school counselor to find out about their child’s high school graduation plan and graduation plan options, to ask for a comparison of the point system assigned to each of the courses in these different plans, and to inquire about their child’s class ranking. When parents become aware of how course selection and graduation plans effect class ranking, and how those directly impact scholarships and or college acceptance, they gain necessary information, instrumental for providing guidance and support. All parents who submitted their email addresses at the presentation were provided with the entire presentation in English, in Spanish, or both as per their request. Links to resources were also provided to all parents and several students who attended without a guardian.

Participants were also given information on ACT Academy, a free online learning tool and free practice ACT Test.