The 18 students, all but four of them seniors from area high schools, were the first Toledo Latino honor students to be invited to attend the OSU recruiting festivities.
Outstanding local Latino students have traditionally been invited to similar programs at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University, says José Luna, Bilingual Educational Coordinator for Toledo Public Schools.
What has kept Toledo Latino students from considering the Buckeyes as an option? Luna says Ohio State’s grade average requirements have been somewhat higher, “well into the 3.0 range,” than those of the Toledo area’s universities.
Another factor has been arranging transportation to Columbus. Luna said it costs a minimum of $500 to charter a bus, a major problem for the cash-strapped TPS system. TPS busses were out of the question because they needed to be returned by 2 pm to pick up junior high school students, and the OSU event was scheduled to run into early afternoon. Luna said the bus to OSU planned to leave at 6:30 a.m. in order to arrive in Columbus at 8:30, and would not return to Toledo until after 4:30 p.m.
So how did Luna find a bus for the trip? David Ibarra, Assistant Principal of Whitmer High School, had earlier told Luna about a friend, Normando Cabán, the Director of the Office of Minority Affairs at OSU.
Luna had contacted Cabán about a student from Port Clinton who wanted to go into a medical program, and Cabán was able to set up a tour of OSU for the student.
That’s when Luna learned that Latino students from all over the United States, especially those from California, Texas, Florida and New York, visit OSU, but very few students who take the recruitment tour are from Ohio.
Luna and Cabán discussed OSU’s requirements and then Cabán asked Luna, “What if I pay for the bus?” The funds came from OSU’s Office of Minority Affairs, and the result was the Oct. 27 bus trip.
Unfortunately, no one could have predicted the weather. “We got there late because of traffic and missed the breakfast. But still, it was a great day for the kids. Each one had a positive experience,” said Luna.
Each student was escorted to the individual building housing the school of their academic interest, including nursing, business, law enforcement, law, engineering and early childhood education.
“They talked to the students about the university’s high expectations and the different scholarships that are available including one of the largest scholarship programs available anywhere in the country. They also were told about the various internships to prepare the students for the real world, as well as all of the overseas learning opportunities. These are all programs designed to make them ready for the job market,” explained Luna.
Afterward, the students were served lunch. Luna said the full menu was a far cry from the pizza the students usually get on trips to area universities.
After lunch, there was a session for the students and their parents. The one mother who was to accompany the Toledo contingent was unable to go at the last minute. Several students told Luna their parents would certainly have attended had they known of the afternoon session.
There were about 350 students and 75 parents from all over the country at the session. Luna said the Toledo students were possibly the only Latino kids there, although there may have been a handful of others in the overall group.
Cabán was optimistic that Toledo students would fill the bus next year.
Because OSU looks at students in the Top Ten of their school, Luna thinks students with a 3.2 from Libbey or other high schools might qualify. This would put OSU in competition with BGSU which offers free tuition to graduating seniors with a 3.0 average and a 21 on their ACT.
Cabán was invited by Luna to attend the TPS Latino Youth Summit next May.
Although the bus was late getting back, Luna said it returned in time for several Waite students to participate in Friday night’s football game, including its quarterback, Jacob Moreno, who threw the touchdown pass when Waite HS defeated Woodward HS, 6 to 0.
Here’s a list of the participating students and their high schools:
From Libbey HS: Arturo Ordoñez.
From Woodward HS: Stephanie Shipman.
From Waite HS: Manuel Martínez: Josh Carmona, Samantha Pecina, Adrianna Escareño, Alceecia Segura, and Jacob Moreno.
From Bowsher HS: Analicia Duell, Samantha García, Amanda Lowrie, and Esteban Garibaldo.