The college invited 130 Hispanic and Marshallese students to its Learning, Improvement, Fun and Empowerment, or LIFE program this week to see what it's like to set foot on campus
"We get an opportunity to show them the ropes a little bit," says Codie Ryan, the NWACC's Global Communities Outreach Coordinator. "It breaks down the fear, so that they don't have to worry about what will it be like, that first day wen i have to go to college."
Most of the students in the program are the first in their families to be considering college, and Ryan wants to help them to stay in school.
"The high schools have prepared them I'm sure to a certain degree, but it's also helpful to have the experience of actually being on campus," she says.
Tania Rodriguez just graduated from Heritage High School, and in the Fall she starts her first semester of college, an experience her parents never knew.
"I'm doing something that they've always dreamed of doing," she says. "They're from El Salvador and over there it was quite hard to go to college, so I'm the first generation to actually accomplish that."
Community leaders spread a message of empowerment during breakout sessions on leadership, teamwork, goal setting, community involvement and overcoming obstacles."
Juan Miller is in the eleventh grade at Bentonville High School.
"My mom, we came here with nothing from mexico and she had to work really hard, tons of jobs, just to get where we are now," he says. "She's always told me 'Juan, get a good education so you don't have to work as hard as me.'"
Miller says he didn't know how, or if he would pursue secondary education, until he visited the school Thursday.
"I've been really nervous about going to college, since my mom and my dad never went," he says. "But this really has helped me assure myself that I really should go to college and have a better future."
The program continues Friday, focusing more on what happens after students get into college, topics like finding financial aid and student involvement on campus.