Rachel Yeates, Campus Carrier News Editor
This Saturday, Berry will be hosting the very first Spanish-only Discover Berry, or Descubre Berry. Current Spanish speaking students and staff will help run the event. Noemi Sarrion-Cortes, multicultural recruitment coordinator in the office of admissions, said this event will better Berry’s communication with students’ families who predominantly speak Spanish.
“Berry has traditionally always had Latino students enrolled,” Sarrion-Cortes said. “But what we realize is that the parents of these very talented students aren’t as familiar with the higher education system in the U.S. … so we try to help them navigate, in their native language, the admissions process.”
| Contributed by Office of Admissions
Flyers for the event advertise that “Your next step will be one of the most important.”
The event will take place this Saturday morning and afternoon. Spanish speaking
students and faculty will help facilitate the event and share their Berry experiences
with visiting families.
She was not alone in these thoughts. Senior Elvis Diaz, a student leader for Descubre Berry, commented on the disadvantage that parents face when confronted with college applications in the U.S.
“Oftentimes Hispanic parents … feel out of the loop with the language barrier,” Diaz said. “They’re not as properly informed of how the college application works. I feel like having an all-Spanish Discover Berry is going to shine some light on them and give them some peace of mind.”
SGA president Paton Roden is also excited for the event.
“I think that it’s really a good recruitment tool,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity for some of our Spanish groups to get involved.”
Representing the Hispanic honor society, Sigma Delta Pi, senior Spanish major Whitney Duffie thinks “it’s definitely a good way to reach out to families who speak Spanish primarily and show them that we care.”
“The families that come will get a very personalized experience learning about the campus and all the opportunities that are at Berry,” she said.
Diaz spoke to how important that “person-to-person” connection would have been for him and his mother when he was in the middle of his college search.
“I had to explain everything for (my mom) because she only speaks Spanish,” Diaz said. “I kind of had to do everything alone. If my mom would’ve been able to attend such things and know exactly what I was going though, I feel like it would have made things much easier.”
Brett Kennedy, assistant vice president of admissions, said Berry has been offering “Spanish language tours of the campus for many years,” but he is “excited about this event” and the opportunities it will bring.
“We always want to present the Berry message in the way that a family’s going to be most comfortable,” Kennedy said.
With around ten families, Descubre Berry is very “scaled down from the hundreds of people that a Discover Berry will serve,” Kennedy said. He hopes the smaller size will provide for a more personal experience.
Sarrion-Cortes said high schools have invited Berry to participate in Spanish college nights and that Berry is working on being an active part in the Hispanic community.
“We’re trying to be welcoming – sending a message that we are available here for … our neighbors,” Sarrion-Cortes said. “They’re here … and all over Georgia, so it’s just a way to present a private education option within the Georgia context … I think it’s very important for any institution to be serving a wide range of the population.”
Diaz said these efforts are “an opportunity for more Hispanic students to attend the school here and increase our diversity.”
Sarrion-Cortes said she has received positive feedback from Berry staff and students as well as eager volunteers.
“Between 15 and 20 students will be volunteering … in different capacities,” she said. “Some of our faculty and staff are also volunteering that day to help our guests. I’ve received a lot of excitement from our people here at Berry.”
Duffie is looking forward to the event.
“I’m really excited about meeting people there,” she said. “Meeting the families that come … and getting to speak Spanish on campus … putting my skills to use in a way that will help the school.”
Duffie spoke of not only of how Descubre Berry will affect families, but also how it will affect the volunteers.
“The students who help will definitely benefit by getting a chance to use their Spanish speaking skills and to promote Berry and tell stories of how they’ve learned and grown while at Berry,” Duffie said.
This event is the first comprehensive Spanish only orientation program, and Kennedy is ready to test the waters.
“Whether we’ll have a lot of other events in Spanish – I think it’s a first time,” he said. “I think it’s an experience … and after we have it, we’ll look at it.”