The first day of college: exciting, nerve-wracking, thrilling and maybe a little intimidating.
The first day of college in a new place with an unfamiliar language and a set of norms that you don’t understand at all? Terrifying.
One of the numerous events welcoming students to campus during Bronco Welcome Week, La Bienvenida a Boise State, hopes to ease some of those feelings for Spanish-speaking students and their families.
When Adriana’s family came from California last year to help her settle in, they were clearly very nervous. Her mother, the minute she stepped into La Bienvenida a Boise State, was emotional, nervous, excited and so very proud. “Can you take care of my daughter?” she asked of the team that greeted them. Before long Adriana’s family found Vanessa, a student from Caldwell, and her family. They spent the day getting to know each other, and by the end of the event the two families from hundreds of miles apart had made arrangements to meet the next day and go to church together. Vanessa’s family took Adriana under their wings, easing her family’s nerves and hesitations.
“La Bienvenida a Boise State is about connecting people to each other,” said Adriana Facundo, senior coordinator for New Student Programs and one of the co-creators of the program.
Since 2012, the percentage of Latino students at Boise State has increased from 7.4 percent of the student body to nearly 13 percent. At La Bienvenida a Boise State, Spanish-speaking students and families can meet with representatives from offices across campus, getting their questions answered by people who can help them understand the university system.
“It’s looked at as a family endeavor when you go to college and take this big step to leave your family.” said Facundo. “[The families] deserve to feel like they are a part of the experience because they are invested in it with their students.”
Students need continued support of all kinds through their college career. That can come from their families, but also from offices throughout the university system. And all of that is easier to navigate when you understand what resources are available to you.
“The more parents and families understand the higher education system, the more they can support their student,” said Andrea Orozco, admissions counselor, coordinator for multicultural recruitment and co-creator of the program. “For parents to feel like they belong as part of the experience, it’s really important.”
“I see it leading directly to student persistence,” said Facundo. “When students can feel that support from their family, when their family is there in that huge moment, that’s something they can look back on.”