These moms want to help Hispanic families get their kids to college

A group of moms in Elkhart were offended by St. Vincent school leaders blaming the school's failing grade on Hispanic students, so they decided to start helping local Hispanic families work with schools to get their kids to college.

Posted on March 26, 2014 at 9:22 a.m.

ELKHART -- A group of local moms wants to change the way people see students at a troubled school in Elkhart.

MIL Mariposas Monarca, an Elkhart women's immigrant group, is hosting an event at St. Vincent de Paul School where Hispanic families can learn about college opportunities available to their kids.

Laura Garcia, co-founder of the group, organized the April 10 event because she and other members felt badly that St. Vincent school leaders mentioned Hispanic culture as part of the problem in an Elkhart Truth article about the failing grade the school received from the state.

In February, Steve Doepker, a school consultant for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said the drop in student performance happened as the school gained a higher percentage of students from non-English speaking families.

The Rev. Glenn Kohrman, St. Vincent's pastor, also said the school's drop in performance happened when a "huge influx of poorer, lower income people...Hispanics," came to the school.

Garcia said her child doesn't go to St. Vincent, but as a Hispanic person she is offended by those comments. Her group wants to help local Hispanic families work with schools and be "part of the solution," she said.

They've asked Rocio Diaz, multicultural outreach community liaison at Goshen College, to speak to parents about getting kids ready for college.

Diaz said she's noticed that local Hispanic families are interested in helping their kids get education after high school, but they don't know how to do that.

"In the Anglo culture, since the kids are born, it seem like there is no question — they are going to college," Diaz said. "In other cultures, it's different."

That's something that Diaz wants to change. She said school systems in Elkhart County and the Horizon Education Alliance are attempting to reach the Hispanic population on this subject, but it isn't always easy because of the language barrier.

"The intention is there, there are more people wanting to share those opportunities with this other culture, but how do you reach them?" Diaz said. "That's a problem, I think."

Garcia said this is the first community event the women's group has planned, but it won't be the last.

"We want to work together, so our kids have a better chance to go to college and have a better life," she said.

Kohrman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church, said he thinks the event will be a benefit to local families.

He also said he was not aware Garcia or anyone else was offended by comments he made earlier this year about St. Vincent's grade and Hispanic students.


The event, "Extendiendo las Alas al Exito" (Spreading your Wings to Success) is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 10, at St. Vincent de Paul, Vincent Hall. Rocio Diaz, multicultural outreach community liaison at Goshen College, will give an hour-long presentation about getting ready for college in Spanish. 

With questions about the event, contact Mirna Camacho at 574- 370 1066.


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