A Latino student from Antioch College in Yellow Springs recently walked into Wright State University’s Office of Latino Affairs in the Student Union.
For Director Julia Acosta, it was a sign that the office is doing something very right.
“Students from other institutions are coming here to gain friends, to gain connections, to gain the support that we’re giving,” said Acosta.
The Office of Latino Affairs is a home for past, current and future Wright State students, giving them a support system on campus. The bilingual and bicultural staff helps all departments in the recruitment and retention of students and helps connect them with faculty and staff. It also works to bridge Latino students with the outside community.
“When they fly the coop as a Raider, they need to be equipped with the ability to find good jobs, internships, network the right way and come together as a community,” said Acosta.
Acosta said the office is more vital than ever. The 500 Latino students at Wright State could potentially double or even triple in the next five years, she said.
“The Latino population is estimated to grow largely in the future,” she said. “Other institutions in Ohio are experiencing that growth. We have experienced that growth. And it’s going to get bigger. So we want to be prepared.”
Acosta earned her bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and her master’s degree in student affairs in higher education, with an emphasis on minority issues and career development.
She was named director of the Office of Latino Affairs in February.
The office offers guidance for students and their families, serves as a liaison for financial aid and provides career-type services such as critiquing job resumes and cover letters. It also sponsors events designed to unify Latino students and honor their culture such as the fourth annual Amigos Latinos Gala on April 14 and the celebration of Cesar Chavez Day and the inception of Amigos Latinos, a student organization.
Acosta said Latino students at Wright State come from as far away as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador. And they are studying everything from engineering to health care to motion pictures.
“I have a lot of success stories,” said Acosta. “Their talents are getting into the community and our communities become stronger, more diverse, richer.”