BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — There are a number of organizations and businesses wanting to connect the Latinx students of Bellevue University to the community, and now they’re all in one place at the El Camino Latino Center for Students.
Gina Ponce, director of Latino community outreach with Bellevue, has been working with Latinx students at for several years now.
She says the many of them struggle to make community connections and often start networking late on their college journey.
“So I thought if we start while they’re in college, then by the time they graduate, they will be prepared to do whatever it is that they want to do, and not have to start the search at that point," Ponce said.
She’s hoping to do this at the new center and says the university has always been supportive of this mission. Both the director and the school are ready to get started.
“They have an open mind, they’re always open to new ideas, to new innovations," Ponce said. "My boss and I sat down, and we talked about the possibilities. And he had the same vision that I did, and so I thought, ‘let’s do it.”
At the El Camino Latino Center, students can find employment with Goodwill Industries, find ways out of poverty with Omaha Bridges, learn about banking and finances with US Bank, become civically engaged with Heartland Workers Center, learn more about journalism with Mundo Latino and learn about starting their own business with Couture.
Ponce said her main goal for every student who comes through the center though is to give them hope and confidence for facing the future.
“We try to really motivate them to think that they could do the impossible," Ponce said.