On Saturday, 21 January, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside opened its doors for its second ever Bilingual Open House. While UW-Parkside’s Office of Admissions and New Student Services has always dedicated itself to providing student services, such as open houses, this bilingual event was unique, as it marketed itself towards Hispanic students and was conducted entirely in Spanish.
The event generated a great turnout from both families and high school groups. Badger High School, located in Lake Geneva, bussed in their potential students who wanted to get a slice of college.
As the event commenced, Admissions Advisor and Bilingual Open House coordinator Mirella Rivera gave her admissions presentation, where she discussed admissions requirements, high school transcripts, projected costs, athletics, student involvement, and major and minor programs.
“We hope to make people well aware of what Parkside has to offer them, the steps to apply to get here and how to achieve success at Parkside,” said Rivera.
Rivera handed the microphone off to special guest Leonor McCall-Rodriguez, who gave a motivational presentation about opportunity and the importance of education.
“I think it is always important for students to remember what differentiates people who succeed from those who don’t is that the ones who succeed are willing to do things that the others are not,” said McCall-Rodriguez
Many of the students and teachers enjoyed both Rivera and McCall-Rodriquez’s presentations, and they learned a lot about the college experience.
“I loved the motivational speaker,” said Badger High School teacher Joe Reed. “It was also really nice to see that your guidance representative was a bilingual graduate of this university, and that she showed her success to the students.”
“I am getting excited!” said a student attendee from Badger High School. “Today, I found out that Parkside has the Pre-dentistry program that I want to study.”
“I understood what [Leonor] was saying and where she was coming from. I think it was a great presentation and it had a good message,” said another Badger High School junior.
After McCall-Rodriguez gave her presentation, the students were divided into groups, with whom they attended workshops on college preparation and financial aid. The students then regrouped for a catered lunch in the ballroom, where they participated in raffles and talked with other families.
After lunch, special guest speaker and UW-Parkside Alumnae Bryan Lyday told the students about his experience at the university. Latinos Unidos and multicultural Greek life members also spoke to the students about involvement in their respective organizations and showed potential students the strength in Parkside’s Latino network. After group photographs, the students divided themselves into two tour groups. One of the tours was entirely in Spanish, and the other was in English.
The program was an effort from Rivera and Assistant Director of Admissions Cassie Vosters. Both Vosters and Rivera stressed the importance of achieving educational and career goals, and their aim was to promote Parkside’s diverse campus as a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for students from all walks of life.
Currently, UW-Parkside is the most diverse institution in the University of Wisconsin system. While events like the bilingual open house promote diversity, expanding Parkside’s ethnic range was not the sole intention of the event. Of the roughly 3,700 full time students, approximately 415 identify themselves as Hispanic. While not all of the students who identify themselves as Hispanic consider Spanish their first language, the Bilingual Open House accommodated Hispanic families and students and attempted to expand the general Hispanic community at Parkside. The Bilingual Open House provided students who speak Spanish in their homes with a level of comfortability in a setting that is less than familiar, as it was some of the students’ first times visit a college campus.
“It is not about promoting that we have Spanish speaking students. It is promoting the idea that we have a family and a network that will support you at UW-Parkside,” said Vosters.
In addition to comfortability, the aim of the presentations was to help Hispanic high school students set goals and plan adequately depending upon where they were in their high school career.
“I think it all goes back to the idea that college is attainable,” said Vosters. “When you have a motivational speaker, who talks about the bigger picture of the goals, then the supporting sessions really identify that it is attainable at UW-Parkside.”
As the second Bilingual Open House was a success, Admissions counselors hope that the students walked away with an enhanced value for education, and a clear ambition to pursue a degree.
“Education is possible,” said Rivera. “It starts at a young age. It starts with preparation. It starts with setting yourself up with some goals, and setting yourself up to achieve them.”