BCTC hosts weeklong camp aimed to develop college preparation and leadership among Hispanic youth

Photo of Students at Latino LeadershipLEXINGTON, Ky. (July 28, 2009) Fifty high school students with Hispanic backgrounds are participating in The Latino Leadership and College Experience Program, a weeklong camp being held through Friday at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC). The camp, which is in its fourth year, offers a combination of college preparation, leadership development, self-esteem building, community building and an educational workshop for parents. The classes and activities are presented in a way that is culturally and linguistically relevant to the Hispanic/Latino community.

"This is a one-of-a-kind program. Nothing like it is being done in Kentucky." said Erin Howard, Hispanic/Latino Outreach Coordinator for BCTC. This camp combines intensive college preparation with programming and events that really speak to the self-esteem and self-worth of the Latino student in Kentucky.

The camp is funded thanks to multiple grant programs and funds from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Partners for Youth, the Kentucky College Access Network, the Kentucky Department of Education Division of Educator Quality and Diversity, Kentucky State University and BCTC. The grants focus their support on programs that develop youth leadership and increase college access. BCTC faculty and staff operate the camp in partnership with other educational and community groups and volunteers.

During the week, students take introductory college courses taught by BCTC professors and tour University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University. Students will also be meeting with working professionals who are Hispanic or speak Spanish, which help students see themselves as leaders or in successful professions.

Nearly all of the 79 high school students who have participated in the camp in the last four years are continuing their education at BCTC or other four-year colleges.

"Students leave the camp a lot more confident," Howard said.

In the camp this year, 10 of the students are alumni who have returned to mentor new camp attendees. Armando Buenrostro, 18, a recent high school graduate, attended the camp last year and will be attending BCTC as a freshman in the fall.

Meeting new Hispanics was a big motivation to help me want to go to college, Buenrostro said about his experience. Without other Hispanics who want to go to college, you just don't feel like you fit in. Meeting these new people help you fit in.

For more information about college preparation opportunities, contact Erin Howard at (859) 246-6436 or erin.howard@kctcs.edu.

Photo: High school students from around Kentucky are attending The Latino Leadership and College Experience Program, a weeklong camp at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.