NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When Rosa Barrera, now assistant to the president of Bethel College, was growing up, college seemed like an impossible dream.
Her parents didn’t listen to the friends and relatives who discouraged them from sending their daughter, however. “They told me, ‘We don’t have wealth to leave you, so your inheritance will be a college education,’” Barrera remembers.
Barrera became the first in her family to graduate from college. Now she wants to help other Hispanic parents feel they can also encourage their children to pursue higher education. One way is by helping them navigate the complex world of financial aid.
Barrera will be offering a Spanish-language seminar at the annual assembly of Western District Conference of Mennonite Church USA, to be held this year in Oklahoma City, July 6-8.
The seminar is open to anyone but will be given in Spanish and so is particularly geared to Hispanic parents of prospective college students. WDC includes a number of Spanish-speaking congregations in Texas although there is one Newton and one in Wichita, as well.
Barrera has titled her seminar “SI SE PUEDE … Asistir a una universidad Menonita privada y lograr su sueño de una carera profesional” (“YES YOU CAN … Afford a private Mennonite college and achieve the professional career of your dreams”).
Barrera’s parents somehow found a way to help pay for her college education and one of her goals is to let other parents know they can, too.
Barrera, Bethel’s financial aid director, Tony Graber, and associate director of admissions, Clark Oswald, spent time looking at the PowerPoint presentation that Graber takes to area high schools. They adjusted it for the WDC audience, and Barrera has been using it to prepare for her seminar.
“I remember Tony’s presentation at Newton High School when [my daughter] Sonia was a senior,” Barrera says. “I was very impressed. As a parent, I felt overwhelmed, but it helped me know where to start and where to go” to begin looking for financial aid resources.
“If I can do half as well, at Western District, as Tony does,” Barrera says, “I’ll be very pleased.”
Sonia went on to graduate from Bethel with honors in 2011. Barrera’s son Danny is currently a junior at Bethel.
The seminar will include information on scholarships and grants (from Bethel College as well as outside sources), work-study options, and loans (some of which may be forgiven in part or in full if certain criteria are met). Barrera will also talk about filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a prerequisite for any form of college financial aid. Oswald will be available to help Barrera answer questions.
“I have a goal of encouraging parents to help their children think about the possibilities that can come from getting a college education,” Barrera says. “There is sometimes a sense in our communities that ‘We can’t afford it’ so they don’t even start looking. I hope this will be a ray of hope – that the main thing is to know what to look for and who to talk to.”
Back to News NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When Rosa Barrera, now assistant to the president of Bethel College, was growing up, college seemed like an impossible dream. Her parents didn’t listen to the friends and relatives who discouraged them from sending their …