Fliers advertising a new mentoring program between students at Northwestern and MOC-Floyd Valley High School have appeared on campus over the last month, aiming to spark interest in the program.
Initiated by 2012 NW graduate Ben Aguilera, the program focuses on mentoring and tutoring Hispanic MOC-FV students. During the 2011–2012 academic year, Aguilera met with the principal of MOC-FV and Hispanic students at the school to determine their needs.
The mentoring program continues this year, led by NW senior and multicultural intern Ignacio Reatiga.
A native of Mexico, Reatiga had a childhood fraught with financial hardship. His father struggled to provide for his family, leaving them every year for three months to work on a cotton plantation in Arizona.
When the strain of separation grew too much for the Reatiga family, they decided to live together permanently in the U.S.
While Reatiga’s father had previously obtained a visa to work in Arizona, his family had to cross the border illegally. After arriving safely in the U.S., Reatiga’s parents found work at a Tyson meat factory in Spirit Lake.
Because of Reatiga’s experience, he is able to identify with the problems that many other Hispanic students face in America’s public school system. His parents had only elementary-level educations, and besides encouraging him to take his own education seriously, there was little else they could do to help him.
“It’s very difficult for Hispanic students to have the motivation to work hard in high school, because they don’t really see college as a possibility,” Reatiga said.
This is where mentors come in. The goal of the mentoring program is to provide Hispanic students with encouragement and motivation to continue in their pursuit of education through building a relationship with them.
“We want to show them that after high school they don’t have to go straight into hard labor,” Reatiga said. “They, too, can go on to higher education.”
The mentoring program, aside from helping students with their daily homework, will provide Hispanic students with information about college.
The information these students need ranges from FASFA and financial aid to supplies for their dorms.
Reatiga said that not knowing Spanish shouldn’t hold college students back from becoming mentors. Anyone who desires to be a positive role model and make a difference in someone’s life can join.
Mentors will meet with students on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 at MOC-FV.
Mentor applications are available in the Franken Center and the Multicultural Office in the RSC. Applicants may return the forms to the Multicultural Office. Additional information is available from Reatiga at firstname.lastname@example.org.