‘My education will not end:’ Hispanic Student on Higher Education Experience in Central Nebraska

University of Nebraska at Kearney

UNK’s undergraduate census from last fall indicates 13% of its full-time students identifying as Latino or Hispanic. The school enrolls 226 more Hispanic students now than ten years ago.

Kelly Bartling, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment, said the school could get HSI recognition in 20-30 years, with more concerted efforts.

“What we’re looking at is if we can be more intentional with our marketing and recruiting and build on some of the successful programs that we’ve already put into place,” Bartling said.

Bartling said the school plans to get mobile with its recruiting and awareness efforts. It wants to offer more events that will interest Hispanic people around the state.

She said there are many reasons why UNK wants to be an HSI.

“We need to look at the population that we’re serving, and our student body needs to match the population that we serve,” Bartling said. “When you look at the benefits that come from being a Hispanic Serving Institution, they’re tremendous. We would qualify for federal aid that we’re not qualified for now. There are resources and opportunities that become available to our students and ourselves as an institution. ”

Many Hispanic students at the school come from Dawson County (includes Lexington), Hall County (Grand Island), and Buffalo County (Kearney). The highest populated county in the state for Hispanic people is Douglas County (Omaha). Most metro area students attend other schools, but UNK is leading the way to higher education opportunities in central Nebraska.

Never Stop Learning

Arrendondo said he could see himself teaching in Lexington after he graduated in May 2023. He said starting at a small school could be a good launching point for his ambitious goals.

“I even want to continue my education,” Arrendondo said. “I want to look into my masters. I want that completed and get my PhD, in whatever I decide to do. ”

He said he could see himself returning to the places that shaped him.

“Eventually I want to go into the professor level and I want to go back either here (UNK) or at CCC and teach over there,” Arrendondo said.

Arrendondo endures the chaotic life that is being a college student during a pandemic. Nevertheless, he said the end of college next spring doesn’t mean the end of learning for him.

“My whole undergrad has been a roller coaster and with a lot of ups and downs, but one thing’s for sure is that my education will not end,” Arrendondo said.

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