Estrella Mountain ESL Graduates To Earn High Distinction

April 27, 2004 - Six Estrella Mountain Community College students will be the first English as a Second Language (ESL)completers to earn the honor of highest distinction when they are graduated with a variety of degrees on Friday, May 14, 2004. Faced with the challenges of demanding academic classes while learning a new language, many of these students will also be the first in their families to earn a college degree.

Although a recent study conducted by National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and Public Agenda indicated that 65% of Hispanic parents consider a college education to be vital for success compared to only 31% of the general population, Hispanic students are still less likely to complete either a two-year or four-year college degree. Since its designation in 1996 as a Hispanic Serving Institution, Estrella Mountain Community College has increased its efforts to reach out to the growing Hispanic community, which makes up more than 25% of the college's total attendance. This outreach includes spanish-speaking contacts in areas of Student Services, Financial Aid, along with a quality ESL program and an active M.E.Ch.A. chapter on campus to provide an open arena for communication and fellowship for Hispanic students. The success of these efforts resulted in theaward of high distinction for these students, most of whom will continue on to Arizona State University, and one of whom became a U.S. Citizen last year. "I've interacted with all of these students," says Pearl Williams, Chair, Developmental Education. "It is so gratifying when they go against the grain as it were, to exceed what people assume they can do-to exceed not only their parents' dreams, but even their own."

The six students who will be graduated with a wide variety of degrees from Organizational Leadership to computer Application Technology and Culinary Studies, all indicate that perseverance coupled a quality ESL program taught by supportive professors as the key to their success. "For me, completing the ESL classes gave me the courage to start taking other classes at EMCC," says Nuvia Garcia, one of the graduates. "I had to put all of my effort into studying. It has not been easy, but I think that time, self confidence and encouragement have been the key to my success." Many of these students divided their time between classes and a demanding personal life. "It is tough to study, work, and have a family at the same time, but the reward is momentous," says Norma Rojas, another graduate. "Attending this college has been, without a doubt, an experience of incomparable learning." In addition to Garcia and Rojas, the other graduates include Beatriz Carpentier, Andrea Castillo, Pablo Rangel, and Dulce Maria Torres.

These students and others will be recognized at a special ceremony on Tuesday, May 4, 2004 at 6:30 pm in Estrella Mountain's Community Room at the Avondale campus. The students will also participate in the college's formal graduation ceremony on Friday, May 14, 2004 at 6:30 pm on the Ceremonial Plaza. The ceremony will be followed by a fireworks display at 9:00 pm. For more information, contact Nicole DeLeon, Office of Marketing and Public Relations (623) 935-8056, or Evangelina Amparano, ESL Program Advisor, (623) 935-8829.

Estrella Mountain Community College is one of the Maricopa Community Colleges. Located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale, Estrella Mountain and the SouthWest Skill Center offer transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to residents in the West Valley. Maricopa County Community College District is one of the largest community college districts in the nation and serves more than a quarter million students annually. For more information visit http://wwww.estrellamountain.eduor .