The Hispanic Initiative Program has an ongoing partnership with the Monett and Verona Public School District. The purpose of this partnership is to immerse Missouri State University students in diverse cultural settings, while providing maximum benefits to the Hispanic students in the University’s service area. Missouri State students benefit from this program because they acquire practical experience with Hispanic students in the classroom which leads to better serve Hispanic students and address their educational needs in the future. This program is open to elementary and secondary students as well as Citizenship and Service Learning (CASL) students and volunteers.
Verona is a K-12 school district where Missouri State students tutor and mentor at both the elementary and secondary levels. Some Verona students are making important choices and building goals for their future at this time in their lives. An example of a Verona student inspired by Missouri State students is Julio Martinez, a first generation college student. Julio reflected on his experience with the program, “When I was a senior in high school, a group of students from MSU came to talk to us about college and how important it was. The Hispanic Initiative has provided me the opportunity to volunteer at Verona as a mentor and talk to the community about a college education. I couldn’t believe how well I was received when I went back, it’s an amazing feeling that I will forever cherish.”
In Monett, the Missouri State students tutor and mentor at the high school level. These students offer academic assistance and positive role modeling for the Monett students. Martha Rueda, an alumnus of Monett High School, had the benefit of participating in the many activities that occurred through the Hispanic Initiative Program which encouraged her to attend Missouri State University. The Initiative made a big difference in Martha’s college career path. Now, other young women are following in the path that Martha treaded as she shared her college experiences with high school students and parents. Martha reflected, “I present to the Hispanic community because I want to help out. I want others to have the same opportunity that I had. I want them to experience what I have experienced and to be successful.”
The tutoring and mentoring provided to Monett and Verona students by the Hispanic Initiative has motivated several students to attend Missouri State University after their high school graduation. Upon completion of their college degrees, there are various students continuing to pursue their Master’s degrees. Through the Hispanic Initiative Program, Missouri State University supports cultural diversity and higher education for Hispanic communities.