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Overcoming intimidation: Avanza! tackles obstacles and encourages prospective students

Imagine being the first in your family to step foot on a college campus. The first to register for college classes. The first to struggle with exams and financial aid.

Leaders of Avanza!, now in it’s second year at Central Oregon Community College, are determined to break down barriers and fear for students facing those situations.

When Willan Cervantes, instructor of anthropology and director of multicultural activities at COCC created the Avanza curriculum two years ago, he did it with one goal in mind.

“We want to break down the intimidation level that some of the students may experience,” Cervantes said. “What our program is trying to do is target students who hadn’t thought about education beyond high school or even thought that [college] wasn’t realistic.”

Avanza! is a program that Cervantes along with COCC administration created to prepare high school students for education beyond the high school level.

“This term we’re serving Crook county high school, Bend High school, Ridgeview high school.” Cervantes said, “I visit the students once a week at their respective schools, we’re in a class and they a follow a curriculum designed to get the students engaged in thinking about college.”

On Nov. 13, Avanza! culminated its first stage of the curriculum by bringing the high school students to the COCC campus’ in Bend and Redmond for a tour to familiarize them with college life.

During their visit to COCC, students got to explore classrooms, look at the library and spend some time at the campus center where they listened to a current student share his journey of education with them.

Since the program has started, it has slowly built the foundation that has helped with the increase in attendance of new students, especially those of a hispanic background. According to Evelia Sandoval, COCC Latino Student Program Coordinator, the Latino student population at COCC has increased around 8.1 percent from previous years.

“Since I started working here at COCC, which was in 2009, there has been an increase in the enrollment of Latino students every single year,” Sandoval said. “[Avanza!] is a great program. It took a while to get it establish but now that we have it it has expanded to Avanza! two, and a summer program.”

Brayan Gonzalez | The Broadside



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