Making the leap from a child of immigrants to college student isn't always easy.
That's why the Kansas University Office of Multicultural Affairs on Tuesday played host to "Mi Familia, Mi Futuro: Dia del Colegio," a leadership summit for nearly 175 Hispanic students from Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita - part of an effort to make students aware of their post-high school opportunities.
"A lot of times they don't have the information," said Aida Garcia, a program assistant in the multicultural affairs office. "'How can I afford this? Maybe it's not for me. There aren't a lot of students like me in college, why should I go?'"
Eva Vega, a diversity educator for New York University, told her audience that there are many barriers for Hispanic students: cost, racism, immigration hurdles. Students, she said, need to believe in themselves.
"I want them to see the idea that we all have dreams and sometimes the barriers to our dreams is our ability and willingness to dream," she said.
The message resonated with students attending the summit.
"A lot of us are shunned in society, and we're not that important anyway, so why should we go (to college)?" said Charlena Lockheart, a sophomore from Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kan. "Coming here, it helps us understand we can make a difference in society and that we need to come and try to get an education."
Jaime Oropeza Jr., a Bishop Ward senior, plans to attend Kansas City Kansas Community College. Going on to college was never a question for him and his family, he said.
"I've seen the struggle of my parents," he said. "My mom went back to school after her fifth child and it was much easier for her to get a job."
KU organizers plan follow-up events in March in Garden City and in April in Kansas City.