OLLU featured in Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Posted on Monday, November 21, 2011

The October issue of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine features a cover story on Our Lady of the Lake University's Higher Education for a New America initiative. Titled "Taking Our Efforts to a New Level," the article applauds OLLU and San Antonio for being "ahead of the curve" in educating the growing population of Mexican Americans.

Described as an initiative “to better reach, teach and graduate the students who are changing the face of America,” Higher Education for a New America or HENA was launched at OLLU in 2010 as a natural outgrowth of the University mission and history.

“This population has been at our front door and is part of our history,” said Dr. Tessa Martínez Pollack, president of OLLU.

The undergraduate population of OLLU is 63 percent Hispanic. The University is the birthplace of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and OLLU is consistently recognized by the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine for being among the top 50 universities for awarding master's degrees to Hispanics.

“Of course, we have put some services in place and made some changes over the years,” said Dr. Pollack. “But we really thought it was time for us to get better at what we do by anchoring our structures to produce significant results.”

Written by Marilyn Gilroy, the article states, "HENA strategies go to the heart of understanding the role culture plays in the educational achievement of Mexican-Americans and other first-generation students. Some of the unique challenges of this group include: parental pressures to quit school and go to work; assimilation in classrooms and residence halls; lack of academic preparation; and an aversion to loans, even when one can demonstrate the return on educational investment.

"For the HENA program, these challenges are a starting point for creating services and allocating resources that will lead to success."

“We have to use culture as a place to help our students grow,” said Dr. Pollack.

Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio and former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, is also quoted in the article. Cisneros led the volunteer board that helped develop HENA and generate support for it.

“It is time in our nation’s development that an institution of higher education would adopt as its core mission the development of Latino leadership,” he said. “Our nation needs Latinos who have been prepared academically, are committed to their societal obligations and are tested in real-world leadership experiences.”

Cisneros sees HENA as an opportunity to make a substantial impact on the face of our nation for years to come.

“The economic impact of a growing population with college degrees can do more than face the challenges of our city,” said Cisneros. “It will provide better-educated employees for companies, community leaders who care about the future of our city and make San Antonio an education destination.”