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Garcia Benefits from LCU Paisano Initiative

Staff Report

Sep. 26, 2013

LCU outreach program targets minority and first generation students

paisano initiative
Mary Rose Garcia has seen the benefit of the new Paisano Initiative on the campus of LCU.

Lubbock Christian University introduced their new Paisano Initiative to the Lubbock community earlier this week with a reception in the Cardwell Welcome Center. The Paisano Initiative began in August as an outreach to the emerging Hispanic community and first generation college students.

"Paisano is an initiative that's going to look at LCU's impact on the Hispanic community in Lubbock and try to create an impression within that community," said Monica Barnard, LCU General Counsel and Director of the Paisano Initiative. “Paisano will look at our student body and look for ways we can offer more support to first generation and minority students. It will be a coordinated effort between different departments on campus to meet those needs.”

One student on the LCU campus already reaping the benefit of the program is non-traditional student, Mary Rose Garcia. A Lubbock native, who has lived in the city all of her life, Garcia graduated in 1980 from Lubbock High School after attending a private Catholic school until the ninth grade. The mother of two grown children, Angelica and John, she is also the grandmother of six grandchildren (“6 brats” she lovingly calls them): Sabrina, Matthew, Juni, Seth, Jordan and Brooklyn.

"Becoming a teenage mom was the greatest deterrent from continuing with my education after high school," Garcia explained. "Life struggles, becoming a single mom and, at times, a single grandmother, put education on a back burner, but I always knew I would someday go back to school. Sure enough, 30 years later I started at South Plains College and received an Associates degree in Applied Rehabilitation Psychology. I am currently working on my Bachelor's degree in Social Work at LCU.  Although it's been hard financially and the homework can get overwhelming, I truly enjoy going to school!  My family and friends have been very supportive but they do say they miss seeing me regularly."

Ms. Garcia currently works as a part-time, work-study student for Mrs. Barnard in the General Counsel Office at LCU. She is proud to be part of the Paisano program and credits Barnard with the goals and foresight it took to get the program started.

"When I interviewed with Monica for a work-study position in the summer, one of the goals she had for LCU was to implement a program on community engagement and diversity," recalled Garcia. "She asked if I would be interested in working on a project of this magnitude and, of course, I was very excited about the possibilities. Paisano was born and it has been a blessing on so many levels."

LCU has a commitment to both community and diversity, which are areas that the Paisano Initiative looks to emphasize. The university takes pride in having a program on campus that is reaching out to the Hispanic community as it seeks to have a greater impact on the lives of those potential students.

"I would definitely encourage others in the Hispanic community and any other minority and diverse populations to look to Paisano for help and direction," Garcia shared emphatically.

The first purpose that Paisano wishes to address is to help create a diverse population on the LCU campus, in addition to working on community engagement. Recent enrollment numbers would indicate that the university is an emerging Hispanic institution with a 20.8 percent Hispanic enrollment.

"We are excited about the growth in our Hispanic enrollment," Barnard says. "We hope this initiative will demonstrate our commitment to the community."

Paisano, which means compatriot, is slang for "friend" in some areas. Fittingly, it is also a regional name given to the chaparral by ranchers and farmers. Of course, the LCU mascot is the Chap or Lady Chap.

Garcia is a firm believer that the Paisano Initiative has already proven to be very helpful to her and she encourages others to take advantage of the opportunities that are derived from the program.

"The most helpful aspect of my affiliation with Paisano has been a feeling of belonging," said Garcia. "Many times, as a student, we may question whether we have made the right choice of a college or a career. As a first generation student, as well as being a non-traditional student, I didn't have many people to reach out to for guidance. College is scary and quite daunting for many students and, at times, I have felt alone and scared as I muddled through the steps of being a college student. Paisano has given me the opportunity to be part of something that will help other students, who may be facing these same feelings. I can see such growth potential for LCU with the help of Paisano and the possibilities of making such a difference for future students! God has opened this door for me and I pray that I can fulfill His goals for me!"

For more information regarding the Paisano Initiative on the Lubbock Christian University campus, please call (806) 720-7236.

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