Hispanic Scholarship Fund chapter keeping higher education dreams alive

07.16.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez

Excelencia in Education, a national non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating Latino student success in higher education, estimates that in order for the U.S. to regain the top-ranking global position for college degree attainment, Latinos will need to earn 5.5 million more degrees by 2020. San Jacinto College’s chapter of the nationwide Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholars is helping to accomplish that goal in more ways than one.

In just its third year, the San Jacinto College HSF Scholars chapter earned a national Silver Award for “Chapter of the Year,” making San Jacinto College the only community college – out of 30 chapters nationwide – to receive an award. This year, the chapter hosted several student success panels featuring Hispanic professionals in a variety of career fields including law, architecture, aerospace, and even a STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) career panel.

This year, “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” ranked San Jacinto College fourth in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in business; eighth in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in allied health/diagnostic, intervention, and treatment; and 23rd in the nation for Hispanic graduates with associate degrees in registered nursing, nursing administration, research, and clinical nursing. With 46.5 percent of San Jacinto College’s student body being of Hispanic or Latino origin, and being a Hispanic Serving Institution, the College continues to position itself as an advocate of Hispanic/Latino student success.

“The Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholars Chapter promotes academic success and student engagement among Latino college students, while encouraging them to serve as role models and leaders in their communities,” said Dr. Brenda Jones, San Jacinto College provost. “Our chapter sponsors provide our students with all the necessary tools to graduate, enter a profession, help lead our nation forward, and mentor future generations. We are so proud of the work they’ve done this past year, and we’re extremely proud of the honor and recognition their hard work and dedication has brought to the College.”

HSF Scholars chapter co-advisor and San Jacinto College speech professor, Cristina Cárdenas, knows first-hand about the opportunities HSF provides for Hispanic/Latino students. “I was a recipient of an HSF scholarship when I was in graduate school at Texas State University in San Marcos,” said Cárdenas. “The gift I have received from being a co-advisor is that I have helped students attain their educational dream, complete a college degree, and/or have encouraged them to continue their education.”

Student Ivette Gauna, outgoing HSF Scholars chapter president, says that having a support system of family, friends, and mentors makes all the difference when it comes to accomplishing academic goals. “The first people to have faith in the student are their family,” said Gauna, who will major in civil engineering this Fall at the University of Houston. “Friends are the family that we choose, so we share the same ideals. Professors, advisors, and mentors show you the right path to reach your academic goals through career advice, internships, scholarships, and are the best sources for letters of recommendation.”

Like many students, Hispanic/Latino students also have the same concerns about paying for college, which Gauna says is the greatest benefit of HSF. “HSF offers many scholarships for Hispanic heritage students, some providing up to $2,000 per year. HSF also hosts an annual College Camp that is a great resource for Hispanic first-generation college students who are not familiar with the scholarship, financial aid, and college application processes,” she said. Gauna was also accepted into the University of Houston’s Honors College and received a Terry Foundation Scholarship.

“Our HSF Scholar chapter has come a long way in the last three years,” said Jessica Tello, San Jacinto College recruiter/educational planner and HSF Scholars chapter co-advisor. “I think it’s important that our students know that they have somewhere to go and someone to lean on as they start their journey. It’s up to us to make a difference, and lead the way for student success.”


PICTURED: The San Jacinto College Board of Trustees recognized members of the San Jacinto College South Campus Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholars chapter. Pictured, left to right, are: Silvia Orellano, Leda Hodgson, Melissa Medina, Claudia Alvarez, Ivette Gauna, Jessica Tello (co-advisor), Cristina Cárdenas (co-advisor) and Dr. Brenda Jones.Photo credit: Amanda L. Booren, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 credit students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career and workforce preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook.