Hispanic Heritage Month: Green Bay organization helps students pursue college

A Green Bay organization is helping families achieve an American dream that's out of reach for many.
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:18 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In the United States, one way to achieve the American dream is through higher education. This could mean graduating from a four-year or two-year college or a trade school.

Experts say over the course of their lives, college graduates earn more money than non-college graduates.

Yet, the price of attending college in the U.S. has become more expensive, out of reach, for some.

Despite that, some Hispanic families push their kids to pursue higher education as a way to make money and have a better quality of life.

In Green Bay, the organization College Ready has helped countless Hispanic students and their families realize this American dream.

Eduardo Vera Bautista, a freshman at St. Norbert College, is an example.

The 18-year-old’s journey to this campus began in Mexico.

At the age of 1, Vera Bautista says he came to the United States but then left due to issues with his visa. At 12-years-old, he finally returned after becoming a permanent resident.

“How my traditions and my families work, they really come from a hardworking background,” Vera Bautista said. “My grandpa used to tell that he made his first house out of mud, so it really was from the ground up.”

What helped him get to St. Norbert was College Ready. The non-profit helps students of all demographics with scholarships and financial aid. It also assists them with the college application process.

College Ready partners with Green Bay Area Public Schools to recruit students for its New Scholars program starting in middle school. Those who enroll come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and/or are the first in their families to attend college.

A large number of the current participants are Hispanic.

“These parents and these families, they work hard. Many of them two or three jobs to support their families, make ends meet, and they want something better for their students or their children in the future,” College Ready Executive Director Brent Roubal said.

Carmen Vos is the director of College Ready’s New Scholars program and she is involved in recruiting students.

“There’s so much talk, and necessary talk, about mental health and community involvement, and more than just the paycheck. So we want to make sure that we’re working one-on-one and advising the student and the family on long-term goals,” Vos said.

On Tuesday, there were New Scholars at Preble High School being welcomed as they shook off their summer break. One of their assignments was writing essays, an exercise intended to prepare them for college applications.

“We know that students who graduate from college over time have a better quality of life,” Vos said.

Lisandra Rivas, a sophomore at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, remembers her time at College Ready.

“It helped me a lot in basically treating middle school and high school like if it was college. Basically, teaching me how to stay organized, how to time manage,” Rivas said.

College Ready also helped her whole family.

“They always went to the monthly meetings for College Ready because they wanted to learn themselves. And eventually, they even went to college themselves learning from College Ready, so it helped us a lot. Not just me, but my family,” Rivas said.

As for Vera Bautista, he hopes to study accounting and start his own business. Large goals that sometimes make him anxious but then he thinks back of how his own family overcame adversity through hard work.

“It was just that leap of faith to tell myself, ‘I’m going to try college and I’m really going to see if I like it or not. It’s okay.’ I know college isn’t for everyone, but I really think college is for me,” he said.

For more information on College Ready and its New Scholars program, here’s a link to their website: https://collegereadywi.org/#