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Hispanic Outreach: An Academic Relationship

How often do those at Georgia Perimeter College hear “hola” in lieu of “hello”? For Admissions Recruiter Eric Cuevas, it’s every day, and it means he is about to open up a student’s world.

In the two years since he joined Georgia Perimeter, Eric has been the leader of the Hispanic Outreach Program, a platform designed to influence students of Hispanic descent to attend college. Sporting a tie replete with matching cufflinks, Eric is certainly dressed for the office. However, he is seldom sitting down in it.

“I’m always running around…I’m never at my desk,” said Cuevas.

The program often finds Eric in a local high school, encouraging students to continue their education in some manner. The responsibility of the Hispanic Outreach is to facilitate the filling of that gap between high school and a higher education. With teens searching for the appropriate career path, selecting a post-secondary school is often a difficult decision . For many Latino students the choice is simple: go to work. Eric Cuevas’ role is to broaden that horizon.

“The majority of Hispanic teens are first generation high school graduates,” states Cuevas. “Their families don’t understand the need to attend college.”

More regularly, it is not the student who is tentative about enrolling.

“It’s the parents and grandparents who I have to convince. When Latino students visit a college, it is with their whole family,” he explains.

Cuevas is usually the first person that an abuela, Spanish for grandmother, meets when conducting a college search with their grandchild. Usually these relationships last throughout that student’s career at GPC, with Eric being a guide through their academic journey.

“I find myself translating to students’ Spanish-speaking relatives the details about a transcript question, or a concern over tuition cost…I even had a mother call me about her son’s parking ticket,” jokes Cuevas.

Whether it is through handling phone conversations or meeting one-on-one with a student’s family who is still tentative about college, Eric Cuevas is dedicated to seeing each student through to the end.

He and the members of the Outreach Program are available for questions or concerns. For more information contact the local Admissions Office for Georgia Perimeter.

By Andrew Cooper, Contributing Writer

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