A Kansas State University bilingual and bicultural education program has received national recognition for its success in supporting Latino students as they earn higher education degrees. Area participants in the BESITOS program include Magaly Razo de Leiva, Jorge Estrella and Daxeli Monterroza.
The university's Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting to Obtain Success, or BESITOS, scholarship program has been recognized as a 2012 Example of Excelencia finalist at the baccalaureate level.
Socorro Herrera, executive director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy, or CIMA, accepted the award on behalf of the program at an awards ceremony, called the Celebracion de Excelencia, on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C.
"It's exciting that our students in the program are being recognized for their work helping the younger students throughout Kansas," said Herrera, also a professor of elementary education.
The Examples of Excelencia awards are a data-driven initiative to honor programs that improve achievement for Latino students in higher education. Examples of Excelencia is part of Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit organization with a mission to accelerate Latino student success in higher education by applying knowledge to public policy and institutional practice.
The goal of the Bilingual/Bicultural Education Students Interacting to Obtain Success program is to recruit, prepare and mentor secondary students and paraprofessionals for teaching careers in bilingual education to increase the quality of bilingual education for culturally and linguistically diverse students in Kansas.
"The program offers students an outside-the-box thinking about what it means to succeed at the university level," Herrera said. "We ensure that our students succeed by supporting them psychologically and culturally. We get to know the whole person and stay open to whatever their needs are. The center really ends up being an extension of their family."
The program has enrolled between 30 and 50 students every semester since it began in 1999. The university program will graduate its 100th bilingual and bicultural student in May 2013. Herrera sees this milestone as a huge advantage for the state.
As an Example of Excelencia finalist, the university program will be included in the 2012 edition of "What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education: Examples of Excelencia Compendium." The program will also be included in the Growing What Works database.