Latina students who have demonstrated leadership qualities at American International College (AIC) have been invited to the table, in both the literal and figurative senses.
Meeting students, staff, and community members over a meal is how AIC President Hubert Benitez prefers to gather. And on January 18th, the first day of the College’s Spring 2023 semester, a group of about a dozen young women, ranging from first-year students to doctoral candidates, were invited to a Latina Leaders Luncheon with President Benitez.
The luncheon, organized by the AIC Core Academics (ACE) program, was designed as a way for students to learn more about the initiatives underway at the College to better serve Hispanic students, as well as for President Benitez to hear from the students about their experiences on campus.
ACE is a Student Support Services program for first-generation college students to help them achieve success, including their development as leaders. ACE Program Director Terrence O’Neill hopes this lunch meeting is the first of many, representing diverse groups of students.
Among the AIC initiatives underway to better serve Hispanic and Latino students is the College’s effort to become a Hispanic Serving Institution, defined as a college or university with a full-time undergraduate Hispanic student enrollment of at least twenty-five percent. Earning this designation would allow AIC to apply for federal grants to expand its educational opportunities and programs for Hispanic students.
Other initiatives impacting Latino students include AIC’s participation in the Immigration Focused Alliance, which is a group of “American college and university leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses, and communities.”
AIC also continues to expand its international reach with partnership agreements recently signed with Universidad Andres Bello Santiago de Chile (UNAB), which ranks among the top fifty academic institutions in Latin America, and Universidad Catolica de El Salvador (UNICAES), among others. The goals of these compacts include the exploration of shared student and academic programming.
While a few of the students at the luncheon expressed nervousness about speaking with the College president, many said they were also grateful for the opportunity. “I feel honored to be chosen to represent as a Latina at AIC, and to be in a school with such a diverse population,” said Sophomore Shayliez Rosario, a psychology major. She added, “It makes me feel seen.”