Avanzando Through College

June 22, 2021
Avanzando Through College

Baylor's Avanzando Through College program is a collaborative effort with UnidosUS designed to equip Latino students with skills, information and support systems needed to identify student services, improve academic performance and graduate college. The program is a part of the Student Opportunity and Accessibility Resources (SOAR) department in the Paul L. Foster Success Center.

Avanzando Through College creates a learning community and culturally familiar support network that adds value to the college experience of predominantly first-generation Latino students in their first and second academic years. The program equips students with beneficial tools and assistance as they navigate the higher education system in pursuit of an undergraduate degree at Baylor.

Avanzando Through College offers workshops and events focused on topics identified by researchers, practitioners and students as vital to college retention and the success of Baylor’s Latino students. The program is already having a positive impact on students like rising sophomore Brianna Rodriguez, a pre-med health science studies major whose parents were born in Honduras. Rodriguez was born in the United States and considers her Hispanic heritage to be an important part of who she is. She was concerned about being able to find community at Baylor as a Hispanic student until learning about Avanzando Through College and talking with the program’s directors.

“It gave me a sense of feeling like I’m not alone,” Rodriguez said. “It made me feel more comfortable knowing that there were other people going through the same things as me, navigating how to be successful at Baylor while being a Hispanic Latino student. Avanzando helped me with learning to be proud of who I am and celebrating diversity instead of dismissing it.”

The Avanzando Through College curriculum utilizes several strategies demonstrated to improve college retention, such as celebrating student cultures as a fundamental part of the foundation upon which their journey through higher education is built. The program helps students build college-level study habits, establish learning communities with their peers, and identify and encourage the utilization of on-campus resources. Students accepted into the program are eligible to receive a $500 book scholarship ($250 per semester) by participating in monthly workshops, completing a pre- and post-program survey, and meeting regularly with program staff.

This past year, Avanzando Through College was a major touchstone for students due to the social and academic challenges they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising sophomore Mari Benevidez, a history and Latin American studies double major, said upperclassmen and mentors she met through the program helped her with things such as determining a major and which course to take.

“Being a part of Avanzando made it easy to meet other students who came from similar backgrounds and had similar experiences,” Benevidez said. “This past year was really challenging for a number of reasons, but Avanzando helped a lot — particularly the workshops tailored to first-generation students. We learned the basics like how to apply for scholarships, how to manage finances and different topics like that — small applicable things that were especially helpful to new college students.”

Students interested in participating in Avanzando Through College this fall semester can apply here; the application deadline is Aug. 1. For more information or to schedule a meeting, email Avanzando@baylor.edu.