Chabot College celebrated 40 years of “La Bienvenida” as the fall semester kicked off, focusing on inclusivity. The event on Sept. 18 drew students and staff together.
Javier Espinoza, an anthropology instructor and Vice President of the Chicano Latino Education Association, explained the event’s importance for the students: “Getting them to know that we’re here, to know that we want to help them through the process and navigate through the college system because a lot of students are first-generation and they need us to help them get through, and we’re here for that.”
This event aimed to highlight the culture, background, history, and identity of Latinx students on campus.
Chabot College has a huge background in supporting students. Sandra Hera, counselor for the Puente Project, recalled the event’s long history: “Puente started right here at Chabot College over 40 years ago, and that was because a counselor and a teacher got together and said, we need to do better for our growing Latinx community and have a learning community specifically dedicated to them.”
Bienvenida means “welcome.” Our house is your house, and it’s a cultural opportunity for all students to come together around food, music, and each other, to welcome each other, and to get to know who’s in the same space. “In the Latino culture, we always want to know who’s in the room,” Sandra Hera explained.
At “La Bienvenida,” all guests enjoyed music, networking, and burritos. The tone reflected the community in terms of the students, faculty, administrators, and classified professionals. The main goal was to make spaces available for students so they feel comfortable.
“I can support students in creating a student education plan, whether they want to earn a certificate or transfer or get an associate degree. I can also support students in recommending services on campus and resources, or if they need help filling out any forms for financial aid or admissions and records,” explained Jasmine Garcia. She is a counselor at Chabot. Her office is located on the second floor of the 700 building, so she can support students in drop-in counseling services or make student appointments.
There were a lot of opportunities for students to meet representatives of different organizations, such as “El Centro,” the Student Resource Center for all students on campus with a focus on the cultural background of the Latinx community. “The Dream Center” has information and resources for students who are undocumented and need counseling appointments. They provide access to legal services, like meeting with a lawyer.
“The STEM center” focuses on students pursuing careers in math, biology, and physics. Financial aid department reminded everyone about the opportunities to apply for the financial resources available to pay for books, supplies, and transportation to pass your classes successfully. It’s trying to bridge the gap between the Hispanic population and number of students getting access to higher education.
Overall, celebrating the 40th anniversary marked a milestone for the Chabot College family. The Chabot College team showed how they connect students to the right services, the right spaces, and the support they need not to feel alone.