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.
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.
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.
Each year, the organization honors a program at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels. The university’s program was chosen as the finalist among 150 schools that applied at the baccalaureate level.
The university’s program is a project of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy Center, which offers a broad array of undergraduate and graduate programs of study in English as a second language. 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 has enrolled between 30 and 50 students every semester since it began in 1999. The university program will graduate its 100th student in May 2013. Herrera sees this milestone as a huge advantage for the state.
The students who graduate continue to succeed, Herrera said. Of the 100 students, more than 70 graduates have started working on master’s degrees. Five graduates are working on earning doctorates.
Herrera said these numbers were particularly impressive because 80 of the 100 students are first-generation college students.