Academic Advisor Amy Zuaso, Pathway Connection Counselor Viridiana Acosta, Education Support Specialist Rommel Aguilar, High School Outreach and Community Liaison María Nieto-Shahsavarian and Pathway to the Baccalaureate Transition Counselor Mónica Gómez represented NOVA at the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) Hispanic College Institute (HCI).
The White House recently recognized VALHEN and the Hispanic College Institute (HCI) as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education,” listing the program in its national online catalog that features various programs, models, organizations and initiatives that support and invest in the educational attainment of Hispanics. The HCI is a highly successful summer residential program that prepares Hispanic students in the Commonwealth of Virginia to enter and succeed in higher education. It is based on best practices and input from Hispanic educators and community leaders, and much of the content is delivered by Hispanics who can relate to the students’ experiences and challenges. The 2016 HCI was hosted at Virginia Tech from August 1 to 4.
NOVA representatives contributed throughout the four-day institute by chaperoning three busloads of students from the Northern Virginia area with 169 high school juniors and seniors, participating in the Hispanic Stars Workshop. The workshop helped them understand the opportunities available at Virginia community colleges. NOVA representatives also taught them how to utilize the VA Wizard tool for career and college searches, scholarships, etc. They also represented NOVA at the College, Career and Community Resource Fair.
For many participants, it is the first time visiting and staying overnight on a college campus. The main goal is for students to leave the program confident that they can be competitive college applicants. The overall agenda and planned activities allow students the opportunity to have a close contact and engage with successful Hispanic leaders and role models in a variety of fields while attending workshops and seminars about the college search process, what college life is all about and the pathway to their own journeys to success by furthering their education.
This year also marks the fourth one of VALHEN-HCI partnership with NASA and its unwavering support in providing NASA-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) hands-on activities and seminars designed to improve the skills and enhance information about career options related to STEM. There were also fun activities to help build community and friendships among participants, organizers, faculty and professionals.
Kudos to this year’s NOVA contingency for the extraordinary opportunity to coach 169 students, for their level of commitment to the HCI program and their investment in one another’s growth as leaders within the Hispanic communities in the Northern Virginia area and the College.