Latino families learn more about college admissions and financial aid at Sábado de Padres event!
SALISBURY, NC — Twenty-one families from across Rowan, Cabarrus, and Anson
counties gathered at Southeast Middle School in Salisbury on Saturday, March 25, for a
special event called Sábado de Padres. Parents and students heard presentations in
Spanish and English on the college admissions process and important information on
how to apply for financial aid.
It all came together through the collaboration of several local organizations and a group
of college students from UNC Charlotte. Local realtor Elia Gegorek first met UNC
Charlotte student Sophia Marroquin last fall in Salisbury when they both volunteered at
a resource fair. The two discussed the idea of hosting an outreach event locally for
Hispanic students and parents on topics related to accessing and paying for college.
Gegorek went to work assembling a team of partners to join the collaboration and
invited in Jordi Roman, Rowan-Salisbury Schools Director of Parent Engagement and
Community Partnerships, and Jessica Vess, Crosby Scholars Executive Director to help
put on the event with the students of HCAP.
The Hispanic College Awareness Program (HCAP) empowers Latino and minority
students to pursue higher education and foster professional growth to prepare them for
life after high school and college. Club President Sophia Marroquin and Vice President
Cristian Gonzalez-Hernandez (a Salisbury resident and graduate of Gray Stone Day
School) brought with them 15 members of the HCAP organization to volunteer and help
lead various sessions for Sábado de Padres. The HCAP leaders also reached out to the
College Foundation of NC (CFNC) to secure a Spanish representative, Dr. JuanEs
Ramirez, to join the event and speak on the specifics of the financial aid application
Jordi Roman, Rowan-Salisbury Schools Director of Parent Engagement and Community
Partnership shared, “This event is a testament to the spirit of Rowan County and the
amazing partnerships Rowan-Salisbury Schools has with our local community
Parents were given the opportunity to ask questions throughout the event and
appreciated the information being presented in Spanish. One mother shared, “They gave
us a lot of tips and information we need to know to start applying with our kids and to
be ready for college.”
USA Today (3/24) reports that “the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled Latino college
enrollment rates.” Latino enrollment “fell 7% from fall 2019 to fall 2021.” At community
colleges, “the decline was more than twice that.” Latino enrollment “had grown 48%
from 2009 to 2019.” Iowa State professor Erin Doran said, “It’s unbelievable how much
COVID managed to reverse that.” Latinos “are likelier to have family obligations and to
work while in college.” Around the country, “enrollment numbers reflect similar
challenges confronted by the nation’s approximately 3.7 million Latino undergraduate
students: Enrollment among Latinos fell 7% from fall 2019 to fall 2021, according to the
National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. At community colleges, the decrease
“These statistics demonstrate why we must continue to partner and provide more
outreach events here in Salisbury,” responded Jessica Vess, Crosby Scholars.
The partners hope to host similar events each year. They also wish to thank Southeast
Middle School Principal Davian Ellison, ESL Teacher Ornella Moreyra, Head Custodian
John Carpenter, Dr. Tracey Lewis RSS Senior Marketing & Communications Officer, La
Alcancia, Mean Mug Coffee, and Gegorek & Associates Realty LLC for all their support
in making this event possible.
Sponsored by Rowan-Salisbury Schools, Crosby Scholars, Centro de la Comunidad
Latina, and HCAP, parents and students gathered to hear presentations in Spanish and
English on the college application process and important information on how to apply
for financial aid.
Cristian Gonzalez-Hernandez, HCAP Vice President, welcomes students and parents to
Sabado de Padres.
HCAP President Sophia Marroquin poses with Jessica Vess Executive Director of
Crosby Scholars and Elia Gegorek Director of Centro de la Comunidad Latina, Inc.