NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/n2MeKa)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s collaborative program to introduce Hispanic students to the promise of higher education – offered first in the Phoenix-Talent School District and then at Medford’s McLoughlin Middle School – has added a third venue.
A “Hornets to Raiders” program began this fall at Hedrick Middle School in Medford, with an initial cohort of 16 students. A Pirates to Raiders program began in 2011 at Talent Middle School, and a Bulldogs to Raiders program started two years ago at McLoughlin – like Hedrick, in the Medford School District.
“Parents were the main reason I reached out to the Medford School District regarding Hedrick,” said Jonathan Chavez Baez, SOU’s coordinator for minority outreach programs. “They were aware of the program and wanted to have support. We knew the need was there, but needed to get Bulldogs to Raiders off the ground. Once the Hedrick staff got on board, we were able to get this going.”
The Pirates program currently involves a total of 98 students in grades 8 through 12, and the Bulldogs program has 136 students in grades 8 through 10.
Those who began the Pirates program in 2011 and 2012 are now of college age and 37 of the 42 who graduated high school – 88 percent – have gone on to two- or four-year colleges, including 10 at SOU. A statewide average of 38.5 percent of Latino high school graduates go on to attend college, according to data at OregonLearns.org – a project of the Oregon Business Council.
The Bulldogs program at Medford’s McLoughlin Middle School and has not yet sent its first group to college.
The Hedrick program and its two predecessors all are intended to open doors to Hispanic students by forming partnerships between students, their families, their school districts and SOU to ensure that the students remain on track for college.
“Something very unique and special this program has is the family focus,” Chavez Baez said. “It is essential to include the family in this entire process. I truly believe the success of the student is the success of the whole family. These families face so many barriers in various areas, that we want to be able to tear those down.”
The family members of program participants make sure their students attend school, manage their studies and participate in events related to the program. The university and school district offer mentoring, financial aid information, transportation to program events and opportunities to learn about SOU. The students take appropriate college preparatory courses, attend two program-related events each year and sign contracts, promising to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average through high school.