EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the 17and consecutive year, El Paso Community College (EPCC) has been recognized as a leader in educating Hispanic students by Hispanic Outlook on Education magazine.

In the February 2022 issue, EPCC was highlighted on the cover, had an article about its success, an interview with EPCC President Dr. William Serrata and the distinction of being one of the national leaders in Associate Degrees Granted and Hispanic Enrollment.

Now more than ever, a college degree or certificate will be required to be hired for the jobs of the future. The EPCC provides vital academic and workforce training and produces the skilled graduates needed for these jobs. As the country emerges from the global pandemic, community colleges are the driving force in helping students begin their journey to higher education or retrain or upgrade to advance their careers. At EPCC, students find their way to both degrees and success.

One student, Mariana Prieto Caballero (pictured above) earned her associate’s degree in accounting, business, and economics and transferred to continue her studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. She says EPCC has given her the confidence and belief that she has the ability to achieve her dreams.

I sincerely believe that the EPCC has changed my life. I feel more prepared as a person than I did two years ago, not only academically, but in general.

Mariana Prieto Caballero, student at EPCC

Caballero’s experience is common. Community colleges have always been an agile sector of higher education, and the pandemic has further heightened their importance in strengthening our nation and our communities.

EPCC President Dr. William Serrata says the pandemic has been a difficult time, but one that has also demonstrated the resilience of students and colleges. He also showed the importance of renewing the commitment to innovation and flexibility in order to better serve students.

“For Hispanic students and other underserved students, higher education is the surest path to the middle class,” Serrata said. “However, students cannot benefit from a college diploma if they do not complete their studies. Therefore, providing students with support and tools so that they can graduate is one of the primary goals of the EPCC. »

Daisy Martinez (pictured above) is another example of the EPCC’s focus on helping students achieve their dreams. Martinez moved to the United States from Mexico in sixth grade and learned to read, write, and speak English. Originally, his plan after graduating from college was to join the Navy. Unfortunately, her plans were derailed when she suffered a debilitating accident that put her in a coma. After coming out of the coma, Martinez had to relearn basic motor skills, including walking, as well as how to speak again. As she continued on her path to recovery, she decided to enroll in the EPCC. Martinez credits the faculty, staff and advisors, combined with the college’s strong support services, for helping him achieve his goals.

There is no doubt that I have struggled tremendously with my disability, but I am working hard for a better career and future. I am proud to be the first in my family to go to university, and I believe EPCC was the best place to start!

Daisy Martinez, student at EPCC

Martinez and other Hispanic students describe feeling welcomed, connected, and a sense of belonging at the EPCC. The college has always been committed to intentionally serving Hispanic students. EPCC is a nationally recognized institution that has prioritized student success by closing equity gaps as well as having caring faculty and staff who put students first.

The college has advanced the success of Hispanic students and all students using data, evidence-based practices, and strong leadership. The results show. For more than 16 years, EPCC has been ranked among the top institutions for graduating Hispanic students.

EPCC has also received numerous national accolades, including being among the first institutions to earn the Seal of Excellence from Excelencia in Education for its ongoing work to accelerate Hispanic student success by reaching beyond enrollment and demonstrating intentionality and impact in serving students.

For EPCC graduate Mario Ulloa, achieving his dreams has faced obstacles, the most difficult being an 18-year prison sentence for a drug-related conviction. He knew he wanted a better future and enrolled in EPCC and focused on his art.

He was mentored by a graphic arts faculty that first guided him to earn a certificate in graphic design and then earned an associate degree in advertising, graphic design, and design. He had his first solo art exhibition at a local museum last fall. He says EPCC has prepared him for his career, including teaching him how to use technology and computer programs, design and entrepreneurial skills for his business.

“EPCC has improved my life in many ways,” Ulloa said. “The proudest moment was walking to receive my associate’s degree with my family there supporting me.”

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