CALDWELL, Idaho — This month, the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs wrapped up its youth leadership summits. It's a chance for hundreds of students to build skills and learn more about colleges and scholarship opportunities.
This year's Idaho Hispanic Youth Leadership Summits attracted more than 1,800 students. The events in Twin Falls, Boise, and Pocatello focus on and college prep and fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Public and private universities also awarded scholarships.
Arnoldo Hernandez is the director of the Inclusion and Intercultural Department of the College of Idaho, he said one of the highlights is presenting scholarships to students.
“If we can yield 5 or 10 percent of the total, that would be amazing. That means we are making a difference with those 10 to 5 percent with the students,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez is also the founder of the Inclusion and Intercultural Department. The college awarded more than $7 million in scholarships pledges to students at the summits.
“That scholarship program hand in hand with faculty and staff. We created a really good retention program here on this campus. We are graduating Latino students at the same rate as everybody else on this campus, which really bumps this country's rate,” Hernandez said.
¡Orale! @collegeofidaho just awarded $1.4 million in scholarships to students at #HYLS21 in Pocatello.— 🌟J.J. Saldaña🌟 (@jjsaldana) October 19, 2021
They have awarded $7.4 million at our 3 summits. #IdahoHispanicYouthLeadershipSummit pic.twitter.com/sRB8fFd6F5
Hernandez said the scholarship represents a minimum of $15,000 a year for four years.
“It’s really difficult for our underrepresented students to grasp the concept of access. There are all types of barriers that can get away from accessing, one of them is scholarship and funding,” he said.
Hernandez says there’s no hard feeling if a student goes elsewhere and hopes the summit and the scholarship opportunities would inspire students to pursue high education.
“We are just one institution, there are so many here to offer you opportunities,” Hernandez said.
For incoming freshmen, the cost to attend the College of Idaho is estimated to be $46,000 a year.
HERNANDEZ SETS HIS EYES ON HISPANIC SERVING INSTITUTION STATUS
In May, The College of Southern Idaho announced it achieved federal recognition for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status. The college became the first college in the state of Idaho to reach the milestone.
HSI recognizes education institutions when 25% of students in enrollment identify as Hispanic.
Hernandez said he would like to see the College of Idaho achieve the status as well.
"I have a feeling that it’s a reachable goal. I’m setting a goal within the next 5 to 7 years. I think we can make that 10 percent difference,” he said.
Hernandez said about 15 percent of students identify as Latinos, and HSI status would open more scholarship opportunities.
“Grants, the College of Assistance Migrant Program, would be at our reached,” he said.