Prepárate 2024

Bridging Horizons: Empowering Latino Students from K−12 to Community College

At the recent 2024 Prepárate™: Educating Latinos for the Future of America conference, professionals across K–12 and higher ed met to discuss educational excellence and equity for all students. The conference is a critical piece of College Board’s advocacy work to bring together education leaders for three days focused on uplifting the Latino student community.  

College Board President Jeremy Singer kicked off the opening plenary on day two to discuss the importance of gathering to drive positive outcomes for Latino students. “At this event,” he stated, “we engage in crucial conversations about the educational challenges facing Latino students while exploring innovative solutions to address those specific obstacles and challenges.”  

As part of the effort to increase success for Latino students, Singer highlighted College Board’s focus on access to advanced coursework through programs like Advanced Placement® (AP®) that can “significantly impact students college plans and career ambitions.” To resounding applause, he reported that from 2013 to 2023, Latino participation in AP increased by 81%. He went on to say, “We’ve seen remarkable increase in Latino participation in AP courses over the past decade, demonstrating this cohort’s potential and determination to challenge themselves and succeed.” 

While these participation numbers are impressive and core to College Board’s mission, Singer knows this isn’t a single entity effort. In the second part of the plenary, Jim Montoya, chief of Membership, Governance, and Global Higher Education and secretary of the corporation, was joined by education leaders engaged in driving outcomes for Latino students. 

Adriana Rodriguez, chief operating officer and vice president of institutional programs at Excelencia in Education, spoke about both her organizational and personal mission in service of Latino students. 

“My mission is to fight passionately and humbly for equitable access to education and employment opportunities for older youth and young adults, especially those marginalized by the educational system,” said Adrianna. She discussed the critical role two-year postsecondary institutions play in the lives of Latino students who often require more flexibility in their course loads due to family and work obligations. 

Marvin Martinez, chancellor of Rancho Santiago Community College District, explained to attendees what his focus was. It isn’t dissimilar to Adriana’s focus on how to enhance college success rates. He talked about incentivizing enrollment by offering apprenticeships that allow students to attend school full time while earning a salary. 

“You have to find solutions to attract students,” stated Martinez. His programs have drawn keen interest across the nation. He’s even found himself engaged in national level discussions at the White House. 

Adelina Silva, vice chancellor for student success at Alamo Colleges District, spoke with attendees about student retention and promoting the importance of studying. “Whether an individual thinks they can or thinks they can’t, they’re right,” she claimed. “It’s our obligation to provide students the opportunity for mentoring and the road map to advance themselves and be part of that learning every day. Opportunities like these are serious business, and sometimes students don’t have that reference point at home.” 

Conferences like Prepárate are a critical piece of the multilayered support system required to advance students in underserved communities. Although much work remains to be done, there’s no doubt that attendees left the session reinvigorated, knowing that the success of Latino students drives the work of many in the education community.