The LLCEC is a unique experience that provides Latino/a, immigrant, refugee and ESL students with opportunities to receive intensive instruction in language, math, and sciences in a college setting, to experience college life and classroom responsibilities, and to interact with faculty and support staff. Students are exposed to career and occupational explorations and cultural exchanges.
Each participant in the camp is able to enjoy college classroom settings that encourage and nurture mentor relationships with current college professors, community leaders, and current college students. The close work with the professors allows students to forge healthy and challenging professor/student mentorships that focus on academic success and personal accomplishment. The close work with local professionals, leaders, and current college students helps participants to see themselves in places of success and allows them a chance to ask questions to individuals who understand their cultural and linguistic needs.
Participants are also assigned a camp counselor and a college mentor that help to serve as “Rice and Beans” Advisors. The counselors and college mentors are great examples of success for the many first-generation immigrant students that the camp serves. They are true examples that, though difficult and requiring of much hard work, a college education is attainable.
For the past five years, the student transformations that are noted from the beginning of recruitment and orientation to the end of the camp have testified that students enter the program feeling very apprehensive and nervous about their futures yet leave the program taking ownership of their futures and a renewed sense of pride in their heritage and self-esteem.
Follow-up in the form of one on one meetings and group activities takes place in order to maintain the mentor relationships formed during the camp as well as the “familia” established among the students and the staff. In addition, the follow-up consistently exposes the students to messages of academic and social support and personal success. To further enhance the community created at the camp, BCTC Latino Outreach provides internship opportunities to past participants; the intern focuses on sending follow up messages and phone calls to the participants and maintaining the LLCEC Facebook site so that students can discuss and share information and ideas.
The BCTC College Campus at the University of Kentucky is a safe place to study and play. Students enjoy a structured mock college schedule of classes, student organizations and projects. The structure, however, is balanced with dorm life, free time for homework and rest, and cultural activities which are all monitored by respected camp counselors, college mentors and professional staff. The students sign a behavioral contract along with their parents that is similar to college/university codes of conduct thus making them responsible for their actions and behaviors. During their unscheduled time, students are free to enjoy college life by using UK and BCTC facilities.
The academic contract that students create for themselves is designed to encourage rigorous study throughout the school year. The contract is self-monitored thus making the student responsible for his/her performance. Students are encouraged to live up to their contracts through scholarship nominations. Students are nominated to local Scholarship Programs based on peer evaluations, teacher recommendations and scholastic performance or improvement.
Students are encouraged to attend events during/after camp that promote healthy lifestyles and activity. They are also exposed to workshops during the camp that educate about important aspects of college life such as stress and time management, healthy eating habits, financial literacy, study skills, etc. Students also receive a handbook “Mi Camino a la Universdad” (enhanced version) that includes information about the topics listed above as well as information about healthy relationships, Drug prevention, and financial literacy and safe driving behaviors.
Additionally, the camp features workshops and information about healthy relationships. BCTC staff work with trained counselors from Bluegrass Community Clinic and Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center to speak to the participants in gender safe environments about healthy relationships, positive dating relationships and how to help someone in a domestic violence situation. We also address issues of depression and suicide. Latino students, particularly Latinas, suffer from the highest rates of depression, teen suicide and teen pregnancy. Because this demographic suffers higher rates of depression but is less likely to reach out for support, we hope to do our part by providing information and a safe environment to discuss these topics.
One of the camp‟s main purposes ands goal is to expose future college students/leaders to a challenging and rewarding educational setting all while exposing them to the wealth of impact that Americans from all different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds have contributed to United States. To accomplish this, the camp exposes the students to all aspects and processes of college life from application to orientation to evaluation to testing to classes. Following the camp, each student receives a personal invitation to attend a college fair designed specifically with their needs in mind: booths of all major colleges and universities in Kentucky; workshops on financial aid and scholarships, leadership and motivational speakers and community artist and youth art displays and activities.
Students may also enjoy job shadowing and are able to explore different career choices during the week of the camp. Various community leaders, current college students, and professionals volunteer their time to expose students to the different careers and post-college opportunities. For example this year, students interested in the STEM fields were given the opportunity to attend the SHPE National Conference; in years past the Kentucky/Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) has provided job-shadowing with local STEM professionals.
To compliment the supportive college environment and personalized instruction in math, sciences, computer literacy and English, the camp focuses on cultural studies, heritage language learning, and social sciences. Students are encouraged to maintain and polish skills of their native languages and are taught World History and Culture that allows them to explore more deeply their roots as well as those of other peoples and ethnic groups..”
During the “family” discussions that take place during the camp (each student is assigned a family) they learn about a wide array of topics that include the Zulu concept of Unbuntu, the Mayan concept In Lak‟ech, and about various humanitarian organizations such as Bead for Life, World Vision, and others.
Once a graduate of the camp, students are able to return as college mentors. The college mentors not only serve as role models for the new participants, they also help with the planning and day to day tasks of the camp. In addition, students may join Enlace (BCTC Latino Student Association) and participate in the service activities they provide. The service activities center around exposing high school and middle school students to positive roles models and communicating to them about the opportunities they have in regards to higher education, etc.
Another exciting component of the camp is that past participants and college age youth who have similar background experiences as the camp participants participate by teaching courses offered to the students during the week. Such courses include: History of Mexico, History of Kentucky, Introduction to Community Organizing, History of Rock and Roll and much more.
Students are also invited to join the student/immigrant youth led organization called the Kentucky Dream Coalition. The KDC activities and services include working with Kentucky Refugee Ministries, God‟s Pantry and creating and carrying out events and activities that enrich and empower the lives of immigrant, refugee and ESL youth in the Central Kentucky Region. Such programs include: ARTivism, DREAM University, and much more.