For Incoming Students, Latino Logradores Provides A Home Away From Home
Arturo España, a sophomore plant and environmental soil science and horticulture major, sees the world through the lens of agriculture.
Like plants need sunlight, a proper environment, water, air and nutrients to grow, he says college students need security, community, stability, resources and purpose. This is how he approaches his role as a mentor in Latino Logradores, a freshman program that supports Hispanic and Latinx students at Texas A&M University through the transition from high school to college.
“A mentee is like a plant, and we serve as their soil to support them with the proper nutrients,” España said.
Cruz Rios, associate director of the department of multicultural services, created Latino Logradores in 2018 after the Department of Multicultural Services conducted an evaluation of support for these students on campus.
“After a year of research including focus groups with Texas A&M Latinx/a/o students, we found there was a specific need to programmatically support Latinx/a/o students through their first year in college,” Rios said.
Latino Logradores three components that allow students to build long-lasting relationships, explore their culture, build networks, feel empowered, develop holistically and be of service to the local community.
La Casita is a meeting in which members gather once a month to build community, socialize, network and find a sense of belonging. Las Familias is the name of the structure through which freshmen can be mentored by upper level students like España. Last, La Conexion, or The Connection, is the sharing of resources and information to students, like opportunities in leadership, academic deadlines, career services, community connection, organization involvement and activities.
As a first-generation college student, España is familiar with the challenges some Aggies encounter when they begin to adapt to life on campus.
Growing up in Michoacan, Mexico, his family cultivated crops like sugar cane, corn, mango, cucumbers and squash both to eat and as a source of income. This background in agriculture is what sparked España’s interest in attending Texas A&M.
While living in Michoacan and taking online classes to complete the last two years of high school remotely, España received an email inviting him to join Latino Logradores as a freshman.
“I signed up for it and when I moved to College Station, I attended the first Casita event,” he said. “It was all so new to me. And I didn’t know about all the things I was going to learn from it.”
Juan Caballero, a senior industrial engineering major from Brownsville, is one of the mentor directors for Latino Logradores. Caballero took on the role to help other Aggies adapt to the university.
“I really believe in Latino Logradores. It is a great program,” Caballero said. “It is different. As soon as you meet someone from your background or heritage, you feel an instant connection with them.”
In his role, Caballero helps mentors, mentees and other directors to make sure Latino Logradores works for everyone. He said he’s implementing a “grandfather system” to help connect multiple familias throughout the organization.
“I hope to help students grow professionally, academically and socially,” Caballero said. “I hadn’t realized the shock of how hard school can be, so I want to help students grow academically.”
España hopes to continue improving and growing Latino Logradores through his mentorship and sharing his experiences. He meets with his familia weekly. During these meetings España spends time building friendships with the familia through study groups, gatherings around the university and quality one-on-one time with each of his mentees.
“The majority of the students in Latino Logradores are first-generation students. I know how challenging it can be to come to a huge university where it can sometimes be difficult to build connections or even know the resources available,” España said.