Arizona State University program inspires first-generation college students

Hispanic mother-daughter program connects families to higher education.
Program encourages families to increase first-generation college students.
Program encourages families to increase first-generation college students.(WVLT)
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:08 PM EDT
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TEMPE, Arizona (WVLT) - Navigating the path to college is not easy for first generation kids. That’s why out-of-the-box opportunities like Arizona State University’s “Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program” are truly invaluable.

”Starting in 8th grade you’re thinking ‘Oh my gosh, why would I be learning about college yet?’,” said student Samantha Muñoz. Muñoz is a senior at Bioscience High School and plans to attend the nursing program at Arizona State University. She got a head start on her college journey as early as 8th grade thanks to something called the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program at ASU.

”The Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program has been around since 1984,” said Marcela Lopez, Access ASU Executive Director for Family and Partnerships. “It’s one of ASU’s longest standing programs and it started because the founders truly understood in looking at data that our Latinas were not attending post-secondary education.”

ASU put this early-outreach program into place to prep middle and high schoolers for college. It’s designed to increase the number of first-generation Arizona students enrolling at the university by directly involving the family.

“I told her from the get-go, you have to take advantage of anything and everything that is offered to you and I feel like this program has helped her to reach that next step,” said Diana Muñoz, Samantha’s Mom.

”She’s always telling me she’s never had the confidence to be a leader in school or in her education and she’s never had somebody to advocate for her,” said Samantha Muñoz.

The resources are invaluable and the family support, priceless.” We’ve learned throughout the years that families will be very quick to raise their hand and say ‘I’m interested and I want to see my child graduate from college,’ but then we talk about requirements or how to pay for college and then all of a sudden a parent starts to feel discouraged,” said Lopez.

To help parents move past feeling overwhelmed, parent-student teams attend monthly workshops at ASU and students like Samantha get to work on-one-one with mentors during the five-year program.

”What made it very unique was that family component.” Lopez, who now oversees the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program for ASU, actually graduated from the program herself.

She and her staff work with partner school districts around Arizona, to actively recruit, seventh, eighth and ninth graders and their parent.

”They’re always there to help you and guide you through the process because to be honest I didn’t go to college, so this is all new for me trying to teach my daughter how she and what she needs to succeed,” said Diana Muñoz. “I really hope with this program that she can see that she can do whatever she puts her mind to just like me going to school, that she can do that too.”

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