Southeastern announces Hispanic Leadership Program Board


Thursday, March 14, 2024 
by: Tonya Lowentritt  

     HAMMOND – With a goal to continue the progress and promotion of the education and leadership of Hispanic high school students in the region, Southeastern Louisiana University’s Young Hispanic Pre-College Preparation and Leadership Program recently announced the installation of the 2024-25 Board of Advisors.
     Aristides Baraya, director of the Southeastern Latin American Business Development Initiative, said the primary objective of the advisory board is to provide input on the strategic direction of the Hispanic Pre-College Preparation and Leadership Program. 
     “The board will discuss issues of concern and areas of opportunity and support the HLP in developing strategies to address both,” he said. 
     The new members of the 2024-25 Board of Advisors include the following: Javier Chicas, CEO, Smartwashpro LLC, Hammond; Tonya Crombie, visiting professor of management, Southeastern Department of Management and Business Administration; Miguel A. Elias, attorney, CEO Professional Law Corporation, Kenner; Alfred “Al” Galindo, former chair board of directors, Jefferson Parish Chamber of Commerce; Ron Abel, Southeastern Upward Bound Program director; Saul Rubio, CEO Rubio Enterprises, Hammond; Ernesto Schweikert, general manager TELEMUNDO TV, Metairie.
     “I am  thankful for the work of this board and the work of our director, Dr. Baraya, in helping expand the opportunities and ultimately the social mobility of Hispanic high school students of our region,” said Dean of the College of Business Tara’ Lopez.
     Southeastern has worked with the region’s Hispanic/Latino community for many years through the HLP, developing, mentoring, and empowering young Hispanic communities by strengthening their student skills, improving leadership capabilities, and building a solid and literate workforce.
     Baraya said the program has been an excellent opportunity for Hispanic students to discover new faces in their lives and apply their skills in practical, real-world applications.
     “In today’s world, achieving education and stable social and economic development generates challenges and opportunities that we must face. This is what we are particularly building for the population of Hispanic youth in our region,” he explained.
     The Hispanic population has correlated with an increase in the Hispanic student population. From 1996 to 2016, the number of Hispanic students enrolled in schools, colleges, and universities in the United States doubled from 8.8 million to 17.9 million. Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all people enrolled in school.
     The increase in Hispanic enrollment is seen at all levels of education, from nursery school to college, Baraya said. Hispanic enrollment rose from 14.9 percent to 25.7 percent at the kindergarten level. The percentage of elementary school students grades first through eighth grew from 14.1 to 25 percent. According to the Census Bureau, high school enrollment increased from 13.2 to 23.7 percent, and college and university students increased from 8 to 19.1 percent.

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