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Mother, daughter share journey to college

First-generation student America Carrion gets started at ASU thanks to early-outreach Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program

america carrion
August 12, 2018

As students made their way onto campus Saturday, excited and ready to start a new journey, a petite girl wearing a huge smile pulled up to Hassayampa residential hall. America Carrion, a W. P. Carey School of Business student, climbed the stairs to her new home with a key in hand. Flanked by her little sisters, she opened her dorm room for the very first time as her parents watched from behind.

“Me coming here to college is a step forward to making a better platform for my sisters,” Carrion said. “By being here, I’m trying to make both my parents and my sisters proud. I hope to finish school and start a career so my sisters have someone to look up to.”

While Latino educational attainment has increased and college enrollment is at a record highLatinas graduate high school at lower rates than any other major subgroup, are least likely to complete a college degree, and without adequate resources, may be unable to compete at the same level as their peers.

Arizona State University recognized the need to increase the number of women of color in higher education and founded the Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program (HMDP) — an early-outreach middle and high school program. It’s designed to increase the number of students who complete a bachelor’s degree by involving parents and providing the tools they need to be qualified and prepared to enroll at ASU.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Marcela Lopez, ASU director of school partnerships, said that they create parent-student teams, encouraging open dialogue regarding higher education and goal setting while providing opportunities to connect with ASU staff and resources available to help students prepare to enroll and succeed in college, 

"A parent who is involved and also learns the importance of college means the message is more likely to become the central topic-building a college-going culture at home," Lopez said. "If the parent can also feel connected to the institution and knows there is an ASU staff to help answer their questions, we can become part of their village with the common goal of helping the student earn a college degree and have the best experience possible." 

That’s what makes America Carrion’s journey special. A first-generation college student who, with her mom and the help of the HMDP, learned early about required classes, admission forms, college housing and financial aid. She is at ASU because her family, her principal at Alhambra High School in Phoenix and the HMDP saw her potential and made sure she had the support system she needed to see herself in college.

”In four years I really hope to be helping those in poverty or underprivileged communities get an education or financially stabilize themselves,” Carrion said.

The HMDP taught her organizational skills and time management and gave her the confidence to tackle her classes this year, she said.

Lopez said the HMDP family is excited for America's new chapter at ASU, the new journey that awaits her and that she's one step closer to earning her bachelor degree, but they're not the only ones. Cristina Banda, Carrion’s mother, was overwhelmed with emotion as she looked at her daughter. The tears on her face filled the silence when words to describe how proud she was of her daughter failed her. 

“I’m very proud of her,” she said. “She’s been dedicated, and she’s following her dreams.” 

This journey is not Carrion’s alone — not only did her mom assure her that they will continue to support her, the network she developed at ASU through HMDP will provide her a support system of students, staff and resources away from home.

Banda’s parting words: “Follow your dreams. It’s just the beginning, and I know you can do this.”

ASU believes that all students can achieve a college education with the right tools. You can find more information about the Hispanic-Mother Daughter Program and other outreach programs by visiting Access ASU.

Top photo: Business communications freshman America Carrion gets a big hug from her mother, Cristina Banda; her father, Salvador Carrion, and sisters Sitaly and Juliana while moving into her dorm room at Hassayampa Saturday on the Tempe campus. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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