New Council at UK Works to Reach More Latino Students

The University of Kansas’s newly formed Latino Vision Council is working to find ways to assist Latinos in gaining access to college.

The Latino Vision Council, formed earlier this spring at the invitation of KU Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Lariviere, will identify strategies and actions that will help the university reach this audience, the university announced.

The nearly two dozen council members include public school officials, state officials and leaders of community, religious, media and social service organizations. Four KU students also serve on the council.

“The University of Kansas is committed to serving the people of Kansas,” Lariviere said. “Part of that mission includes communicating the value of higher education. The members of the Latino Vision Council are highly respected in their communities and are well placed to help KU build trust with families who might not be familiar with all that a university has to offer. It takes effective leaders to build effective bridges.”

Since 2001, census data shows that Hispanics are the largest minority group in both Kansas and the United States. And while data shows a decrease in projected numbers of Kansas high school graduates overall, Hispanic graduates in the state are expected to more than double. In 2004-05, Hispanics made up 2,019 of the graduates of Kansas public high schools. In 2021-22, that number is projected to grow to 4,227.

The university said the council is expected to help convey  the value of a college education to Hispanic students across the state. Among the ideas discussed at a recent meeting of the council were to provide more promotional materials in Spanish at KU, to establish a Spanish-language hotline for admissions, and to provide more university-based summer camps for Latino children and teens.  A small committee of members of the council will report back to the university with a draft of a plan by mid-July.

a draft of a plan by mid-July.

Members of the Latino Vision Council are:

Ruben Font, KU Medical Center student from Miami, Fla., and president of the National Network of Latin American Medical Students

Ben Fuentes, Satanta sophomore and vice president of the university chapter of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization

Juan Gonzalez, Kansas City, Kan., senior and vice president of Sigma Lambda Beta, the largest Latino-based fraternity in the United States

Stephanie Gomez, Newton senior and past president of the university chapter of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization

Miguel Banuelos of Wichita, founder and director of Tiempos newspaper and La Fiesta radio

Leo Casados of Wichita, former assistant director of admissions at Wichita State University and an admissions administrator at Butler County Community College

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Gilbert Cruz of Topeka, executive director of the Kansas Office of State Long-Term Care Ombudsmen

Elias Garcia of Topeka, director of diversity recruitment for the Kansas Department of Corrections

Sabina Gonzales-Hacker of Kansas City, Kan., director of the English as a Second Language program for Kansas City, Kan., public schools

Nicole Guerrero Foster of Girard, English to Speakers of Other Languages specialist at Greenbush, the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center

Mary Lou Jaramillo of Kansas City, Kan., executive director of El Centro Inc., a nonprofit whose mission is to address the needs of Kansas City’s Hispanic residents.

Cruz Jasso of Emporia, principal of Emporia High School.

Lydia Leon of Lawrence, founder and director of Servicios Hispanos de Lawrence.

Dolores Morales of Garden City, community organizer

Dana Nannina of Garden City, community organizer.

Arturo Ponce of Liberal, field organizer, United Methodist Mex-Am Ministries.

Leo Prieto of Leawood, director of Latino relations for the Kansas City Wizards soccer team.

Stacie Valdez of Wichita, AVID coordinator, Wichita North High School.

Eliseo Vega of Topeka, pastor of the Jerusalem – Asemblea de Dios church.

Robert Vinton of Dodge City, director, Migrant Education at USD 443.

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