BCTC hosts 10th annual Latino Multicultural College Fair

Latino Multicultural College Fair

Despite Tuesday's gloomy weather, the inside of the Newtown Campus Classroom Building at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) was vibrant with hundreds of high school students learning about routes to a bright future.

The 10th annual Latino Multicultural College Fair (LMCF) took place on the Newtown Campus Tuesday, October 14 while BCTC students were on fall break. Students from high schools around the area were able to get information on how to prepare for college and search for scholarships, as well as learn about the types of support services available to them. They also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from colleges around Kentucky.

The fair has been hosted through BCTC's Office of Latino Outreach and Services for the last 10 years, but this is the first time the fair has returned to BCTC's campus since its start. The fair has been hosted at various partner institutions including Kentucky State University, the UK/KSU Cooperative Extension Office, Georgetown College, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University, and Transylvania University over the last nine years.

Anissa Johnson, LEP teacher for Franklin County Public Schools, brought 85 of her students to the fair. She and her students have attended the fair eight out of the last ten years.

One of the biggest benefits is that it allows children to begin to think about college who didnt think it was an option for them, Johnson said. Some think the door is closed. BCTC is a path for higher education that kids don't know about.

What I see is that kids appreciate that it is geared towards them, Johnson said. She added that a daytime fair that students can get to with school-provided transportation was an advantage for students who have to work or watch younger siblings after school.

Gloria Ramales, a senior at Martha Lane Collins High School in Shelby County, has been to the LMCF twice now. After learning the advantages that come with a higher GPA last year, she was able to make improvements to put her in a better position for college.

Eros Zuniga, a junior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Fayette County, appreciated that the fair gave him a chance to learn more about his college choices and talk with college representatives.

"It's helping me with learning more about college and how to prepare," Zuniga said.

"I think it's great we get this opportunity," said Edith Cruz, a freshman at Dunbar High School. Cruz learned about available dual credit opportunities and plans to pursue those courses so she can have college credit coming out of high school.

Merari Gonzalez, a senior at Dunbar High School, has been a part of the LMCF for three years. She attended the fair as a freshman and now as a senior, and volunteered at the fair last year.

"I learned that college isn't impossible. I came here knowing it might be a struggle as an immigrant," Gonzalez said.

After finding out about the support available, she wanted to spread the word. "I volunteered (last year) because I wanted to let other students know that college is a door opening for a better future."

Her advice to high school students? Get involved and get connections.

More than 500 students from 12 area high schools and representatives from 27 colleges participated in the fair.

BCTC, the Kentucky Dream Coalition and KLEA were the main partners in the event. EKU, UK, Midway College and Georgetown College assisted in recruiting the 75 volunteers who helped make the event possible.

Erin Howard, BCTC's director of the Office of Latino Outreach and Services, would like to thank BCTC; Charlene Walker, BCTC's vice-president of Multiculturalism and Inclusion; and Dr. Augusta Julian, president of BCTC, for their support.