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NW Ark. college offers program for Spanish-speaking students

Making the jump from high school to college can be difficult
enough, let alone taking classes in a language other than your native tongue.

At Northwest Arkansas
Community College, officials hope a
five-week program reaching out to high school seniors coming there next year
will help ease the transition.

The “Paso-a-Paso” program, or Step-by-Step in
English, includes classes, guest lectures and games to help students and
parents prepare for college. The program includes having the incoming college
students mentor students at Springdale
High School.

Laura Garcia, 18, said she had her doubts about attending
college after graduating from Rogers High

“I’m a bit scared,” Garcia said. “I told my
mom some days that I don’t want to go. I don’t tell her that anymore. I tell
her I want to continue my education and go to study overseas.”

The program, paid for by a $71,500 grant from the Care
Foundation of Springdale, began in 2000 and ran for three years before running
out of funding. Funding again will run out next year, but officials hope to find
the money to continue it.

“The whole focus is on preparation for college,”
said Shawn Zimbrunes, the college’s director of community outreach. “We
want them to know that everyone has the option of going to college. It doesn’t
matter what their fears are or what their families’ fears are.”

Garcia’s father works in construction and her mother works
in a fast-food restaurant. She is enrolled in the college’s new culinary arts
program and hopes to become a chef.

“I saw the chance to have a better opportunity,”
Garcia said. “I saw how my parents struggled.”

Garcia’s mother, Rosa Nunez, said she’s proud of her

“It’s good for her, and it will help her to do a lot in
life and be successful,” Nunez said in Spanish.

Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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