Senior Fellow Antonio Lopez, as a student at a top university, saw the necessity of creating a pathway to higher education for students of color. “Low-income youth of color are doubly endangered in this regard, given so few resources and opportunities to succeed. Many of these children are bilingual, talented students who must attend to a whole set of problems, from helping their parents to translate, to putting food on the table, to obtaining documentation, before they can even worry about a quality education.”
Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, rhetorically asked, “If I can look at your zip code and tell if your child is going to get a good education – is the American dream still possible?”
Access to Higher Education – given the historic under-representation of students of color in our university, it’s imperative that they receive educational resources early on to prepare them to start thinking and applying for college. “As active undergraduates, especially those of color, we are best capacitated to leverage the monies, speakers, and classes we take every day towards this issue.”
As president of the Rho Chapter of La Unidad Latina, Senior Fellow Antonio Lopez inherited the Latinx Access to Higher Education Recruitment event from previous Hermanos (Brothers) of the fraternity before him. The program recruits 50 students- incredibly talented, promising students who likely have never had an opportunity to be on a college campus. The fundraising and implementation of this program was directly inspired from the efforts of his Hermanos before him as well as the impact he’d seen it make on returning students.
“Without question, the most consequential issue we face as nation today is the achievement gaps that exists in our schools for Black and Latino males.”
Over the past years, the Rho Chapter has worked with schoolchildren from inner city Philadelphia, all the way to rural Blythewood, SC. Despite their low numbers, Antonio and his Hermanos embarked on the massive planning necessary – requests for funding, reserving spaces, reaching out to key administrators/organizations. Antonio spoke to groups ranging from the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, the African and African-American Studies Department, Latinx Student Union, the Vice President of Student Affairs, and others, asking for their generous support in order to fund the trip for all of the invited students.
“The under-education of inner-city youth and people of color is the Civil Rights issue of our time.”
The students spent a few days at Duke where they talk to professors, current students and sit in on classes. With this money, Antonio and his Hermanos prepared for the students cultural performances like Salvadorian Dance Troupe, Samba and Sabrosura, a trip to Duke’s own Lemur Center, the Museum of Natural Life and Science, the Dive (Duke Immersive Virtual Environment Lab), a “Real Talk” panel from undergraduates of color, admissions officers, as well as contacted the Black Student Alliance and National Pan-Hellenic Council to interact with the kids. At the end of the trip, together they all reflect on what they learned and what it means to be a minority on a college campus.