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Mothers Unidas guides young Hispanic people through the college admission process



Little Rock, Arkansas – A Little Rock-based group assists Spanish-speaking families in locating resources to support their children’s higher education.

Mamas Unidas Little Rock’s president and founder, Maria Alvarez, stated the group was inspired by a personal experience she had with her son.

“My son Alejandro was in 11th grade and had a 31 on his ACT, he had taken advanced placement classes and participated in the gifted and talented programs since he was a kid,” Alvarez said. “He wanted to go to college, it was his dream, but I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to help him.”

Alvarez looked into ways to support her kid, but she found the process challenging because she was unaware of the workings of the American educational system.

“The reason everything was difficult was not because of the language,” Alvarez explained.

Alvarez claimed that after that, she began to associate with other mothers who shared her desire to support their kids’ college education.

Soon after, the group organized a meeting to which about one hundred people attended, many of whom expressed a desire to support their children’s higher education.

“We realized that there was a need in the community,” Alvarez said. “We found that the stereotype that says that Latino/Hispanic parents don’t care about their children’s education was not true.”

Alvarez noted that the group offers free ACT preparation classes, allowing children to begin practicing as early as the ninth grade.

“The exam is $60 but a lot of families don’t know that if their child receives if the students get free lunch at school, they have four opportunities to take the test for free,” Alvarez said. “There are families who know this and say ‘big deal’ but for our families, it makes a difference.”

Mamas Unidas vice president Sandra Carmona Jobe stated that parents struggle to understand the process because of linguistic obstacles, low educational attainment, and a lack of familiarity with the educational system.

According to Carmona, students frequently express their worries regarding their chances of obtaining a higher education.

“We’ve sat with countless students where they think, ‘I can’t go to college. It’s out of reach for me”, ‘My parents only have an elementary education,’ ‘They can barely read or I don’t have resources’,” Carmona Jobe said.

Carmona Jobe claimed that in spite of everything, they have been able to allay students’ worries and inspire them to perform better.

“After we sit down with them and talk to them about the options, you can see their faces light up,” Carmona said. “Then something clicks and they’re able to go back to school and start getting better grades, start studying for the ACT, and then take advantage of opportunities presented to them.”

Carmona and Alvarez According to Jobe, the organization also hosts workshops all year long and the Mijo Program, a mentorship program for college readiness.


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