Saint Leo Hosts Successful National Hispanic Institute Program
July 05, 2017
Saint Leo University partnered with the National Hispanic Institute to host NHI’s Collegiate World Series (CWS), welcoming more than 100 high school students to University Campus June 28 to July 2.
The Collegiate World Series is made up of two parts: advanced college readiness and personal life skill development and management. The program is for rising high school seniors with high potential to become leaders within the United States and global Latino communities. Students from the Dominican Republic, Panama and across the United States (specifically, from California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Texas) attended the CWS at Saint Leo.
Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., university president, welcomed the participants on June 28 and commented on how the NHI fits with Saint Leo’s mission. Both want to help students reach their highest potential and give back to their communities.
“Be proud of your journey,” said Ana DiDonato, associate vice president of Student Success, a Cuban-Italian American. “I was blessed to come to Saint Leo as an undergrad. I found people to support me, challenge me, and teach me the ways of being a college student.”
And that is the intention of the first portion of the CWS. The participants learn about how to prepare for college, how to write a resume and a request for a recommendation letter, and how to interview, among other skills. And they get to do this in a baseball-game scenario in which they are members of university teams and compete against each other.
The idea of a “world series” actually came from a college student in 1991, said John Lopez, who is a member of NHI’s board of directors and has been involved in NHI since he was in high school in 1983. “We gave them a task of coming up with a way to teach about the college experience.”
Lopez, an attorney with the Travis County (Texas) District Attorney’s Office, not only offers help with practical skills, but also emphasizes inquiry-based thinking. “It makes them think of the questions to ask yourself as you plan out your college experience,” he said.
The program is vital to the Latino community to grow and replenish its supply of the brightest leaders, Lopez said. And not only are the high school participants learning leadership skills, but current college students run the program and are applying what they learned via NHI, he added.
Giving back to their communities when they return is a shared mission of “NHI-ers” and Saint Leo. “I hope this is more than a summer thing,” said Marc Nieto, NHI education director and son of NHI founder, Ernesto Nieto. “I hope this becomes who you are. I hope you will always come back to NHI.”
The Collegiate World Series participants capped their experience off with a graduation ceremony and a dance before returning to their homes and beginning to apply for admission.