By: Jianna Vasquez
The Chicano Programs and other “ethnic” programs were established simultaneously at NMSU in the 1970s as a result of student protest happening on campus. Students felt the need to have faculty who not only understood their background, but also the issues they were facing. Administration responded by establishing different ethnic programs on the NMSU campus.
The NMSU campus is made up of almost 50 percent Hispanic students and the Chicano program is intended to help first-generation/low income college students in navigating the university environment.
Dr. Laura Gutierrez-Spencer has been the Chicanos Program Director since 1996. This is her twenty-first year serving as the director.
“It’s a privilege to come back to Las Cruces and help our state by not only getting students in school, but by getting our students to graduate and become professionals,” said Dr. Gutierrez-Spencer.
Chicano programs provide guidance to first-generation college students whose parents may not always understand how the school system works by offering informal advising, help with economic issues, financial aid questions, scholarship information and overall providing the students a home away from home.
“A lot of students don’t come to college because no one in their family has so they’re scared and they think they can’t afford it,” said Dr. Gutierrez-Spencer. Chicanos Programs honors NMSU Land-Grant Mission of serving the working class of the state of New Mexico by not only advocating for students at NMSU, but also for high-school students in the Las Cruces community as well.
Chicano Programs provides the community with “preparing for college” workshop usually at churches or schools where they can provide information to students on financial aid and other resources available to students
Dr. Gutierrez-Spencer says that parents of first-generation students are very supportive, but often don’t know how to be supportive or what advice to give them because they themselves have not gone to college. But Chicanos Programs want to ensure that students have the tools that they need in order to succeed here at NMSU and sometimes that simply means giving students some support.
President of the Hispanic Council, and Aerospace Engineering Major, Esai Lopez, says that the Chicanos Program has had a significant impact on his college experience. Like many members of the Chicano Programs, Lopez is the first in his family to attended a university.
“Chicano programs has impacted me a lot,” said Lopez. “They taught me how to speak properly and become more professional.” Lopez, thanks Dr. Gutierrez-Spencer for guiding him and teaching him how the college system works.
Lopez received a scholarship of $1,100 through the Hispanic council. Chicano programs offer a variety of scholarships available to those who are members of the programs. All students have to do is apply through Scholar Dollar$.
Apart from offering scholarships and guidance, Chicano Programs has multiple student organizations under the Hispanic Council that anyone can join. Student organizations include:
College Assistant Migrant Programs (CAMP), Latinos For Exito, Mexican American Engineers and Scientist. (MAES), Mujeres y Hombres Activas Revolucionarias (MHAR) and Society of Hispanic Proffesional Engineers (SHPE). Chicano Programs provides leadership development for the student organizations.
To join any Chicano program’s student organizations, students may sign-up in the Chicano programs office in Garcia Annex, located in room 138. “Chicano” is intended to also include students who identify as Hispanic, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Latino, etc. However, the Program is open to all students regardless of ethnic background.
Chicano Programs at NMSU is a support service that promotes and empowers all student success through education, advocacy and development of cultural literacy.
For more information on Chicano Programs you can call 575-646-4206 or contact Dr. Laura Gutierrez-Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org