Whatcom reaches out to Latino students

By Jenna Dennison

Whatcom Community College has hired Tanya Zaragoza-Rosas as the new Hispanic/Latino Admissions Outreach Coordinator.

Zaragoza-Rosas’ new position encompasses a variety of different tasks, as she does outreach in the community and to middle and high schools throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties.

“I want to expand the community outreach we currently have,” said Zaragoza-Rosas. She hopes to reach community members and potential students by conducting outreach within local churches, by attending community fairs, and reaching out to middle schools in Whatcom County.

“My focus is Latino outreach, but I’m also going to do middle school outreach,” said Zaragoza-Rosas. In conjunction with her plans to expand Whatcom’s outreach with students, Zaragoza-Rosas wants to establish once-a-year college visits to Whatcom with each middle school in Whatcom County.

“My goal is to build relationships with counselors and Advancement Via Individual Determination teachers in both the high schools and middle schools,” said Zaragoza-Rosas, while she also intendeds to increase her focus on schools with higher Latino populations, as she wants to help make college accessible to all. Her own experiences made her new position especially important to her, as she remembers her experiences entering into college.

“When I was a senior in high school, my parents had not gone to college and a lot of the college process was new to them,” said Zaragoza-Rosas. “I managed to get into Western and figure things out on my own, but there was a struggle, and I want to help others not have to go through that hassle.”

She also credits her advisor she worked with at Western Washington University with her decision to become involved in education. “I loved the work she did to help students stay and be successful in college,” said Zaragoza-Rosas. “I told myself that one day I wanted to be just like her.”

Zaragoza-Rosas’ experiences in college also influenced her future career choices. While studying at Western, she worked as a mentor in the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, which “was a rewarding experience being able to make a difference in student’s life” to Zaragoza-Rosas.

“I love working with people and helping them, especially when they needed it the most,” said Zaragoza-Rosas.

Zaragoza-Rosas’ work at Whatcom has not gone unnoticed by other faculty members. Amy Anderson, the Interim Director for Running Start, has worked with Zaragoza-Rosas previously while coordinating events for middle school and high school students on campus.

“There are students in our schools that need to know that there’s someone on campus who cares for them,” said Anderson. “[The] work she’s doing is helping capable students realize their dreams.” She also credits Zaragoza-Rosas with creating an environment that makes students feel like they belong while simultaneously getting different populations interested in attending Whatcom.

Before coming to Whatcom, Zaragoza-Rosas worked within the Seattle Immigrant Advocacy Center and worked as a translator and helped process paperwork and other documents. She also served as a supervisor for Sea Mar Community Health, and organized a program where doctors and nurses travelled to migrant camps to teach workers about healthy practices.

Zaragoza-Rosas is beginning to settle into Whatcom, and enjoys “the environment and culture of the college.” She hopes that her current position may lead to her goal of being an advisor, as she wants “to build trust and personal relationships with students.” In addition, Zaragoza-Rosas also serves as the advisor for the Latino Leadership Club on campus.

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