By Liz Lebron
New College is expanding its outreach to Latinx students, and Ramon Quintero, the new admissions coordinator in the Office of New Student Recruitment, is central to that effort.
Quintero, who is of Mexican descent, is English-Spanish bilingual and has a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies and Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. Quintero hopes that combination of language and cultural fluency will give New College an edge.
“New College is very forward-thinking,” said Quintero, “in terms of hiring people to do specific jobs in specific areas to match the cultural understanding.”
In addition to U.S. cities like Austin and Los Angeles that have large Latinx populations, Quintero’s territory includes the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, which he recently visited on a recruiting trip alongside Dean of Enrollment Management Joy Hamm. Autopista, an academic consulting firm, organized the trip and facilitated high school visits and college fairs for local students and their families.
“I think it’s important for us,” said Quintero, “if we’re going to expand to new areas, to understand what is the local context.”
Like many parents whose children are preparing for college, the family members Quintero met during his time in these areas were anxious about their children leaving home. Some of the Puerto Rican and Dominican families Quintero met, however, shared a unique set of concerns: They did not know where Sarasota is located and worried about how difficult it would be for their children to travel home in case of an emergency.
Although the students Quintero and Hamm met are bilingual and attend English-language and bilingual schools, some of their families only speak Spanish. Speaking with these families in their native tongue not only helps put their minds at ease, but it also builds trust between them and New College.
“Some of the [recruiting] fairs, the parents attend,” recalled Quintero, “they really appreciate that there’s someone that can speak Spanish to them because it makes them feel like there’ll be someone at New College that will be able to communicate with [them] in case [they] have a concern. We create access by having someone from New College speak the language.”
A family affair
Quintero has more to offer families of Latinx students than his ability to speak Spanish. He can also provide them with unique insight into being a New College parent because, in addition to being a recruiter, Quintero is also a proud New College dad.
“[My daughter] is also studying Latin America,” said Quintero. “That’s her area of concentration. She’s going to Ecuador this winter to do her ISP.”
His daughter is a second-year student on campus and her experiences help inform his work as a recruiter.
“When I mention that my daughter attends the school, I think it’s a selling point,” proclaimed Quintero. “If a parent knows that I have a daughter who comes here, their face just lights up. They begin to trust you a little bit more.”
—–Liz Lebron is associate director of communications and marketing at New College of Florida.