In California Lutheran University’s work fulfilling its role as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the university has hired three new staff members through an EduCal grant. The grant is intended to help produce more Hispanic teachers in an effort to decrease disparities in the K-12 learning environment, according to Cal Lutheran’s website.
The three new recruits include Early Outreach Coordinator Destiny Lewis, Writing Across the Curriculum Coordinator Brenda Solis and Math Center Specialist Christopher Newmark. All three were hired with a U.S. Department of Education grant under the College of Arts and Sciences.
Lewis’ job is to work with students at Cal Lutheran and with prospective students.
“I do a lot of meeting with prospective students, some that want to be teachers and some that don’t, and just going over what it looks like to transfer over to Cal Lutheran,” Lewis said.
Lewis is bilingual, allowing her to speak with families in either English or Spanish to explain what the process looks like.
“The schools that I am visiting have a high population of Latin students or students that don’t speak English or come from families where maybe their parents don’t speak English,” Lewis said.
A unique aspect of her work is that she does not solely recruit students to Cal Lutheran.
“My role is helping students get to their end goal regardless of the fact that I work here,” Lewis said.
The writing across the curriculum coordinator role, occupied by Solis, is a brand new position at Cal Lutheran.
“I will soon be talking to faculty and coordinating ways to make writing more of a clear process for Hispanic students, especially first-generation students that may have not acquired the skills during their high school years,” Solis said.
Solis has several ideas for what she would like to do in her new position.
“I want to coordinate with different departments and coordinate ways to make the writing goals more specific. Rubrics would help for students so they have a clear idea of what the expectations are,” Solis said.
Solis said for this to happen, there needs to be a more transparent process, including developing new tools to help students.
“Sample papers could help students so they can see what their papers are supposed to look like so they can compare their writing,” Solis said. “At the Writing Center, we are trained to help students understand the prompt and we go step by step breaking it down and seeing what important information needs to be in the essay.”
Solis said she helps students understand what their assignment is, which can lead to success in the classroom. This is the first step to passing the class, staying in school, finishing school and graduating, Solis said.
Cal Lutheran’s first Math Center Specialist Newmark works with the Mathematics Department to manage student tutors and runs workshops.
“One thing I am hoping to do is to be a presence in the classroom as a supporting role for the teachers,” Newmark said.
The goal is to increase the number of students that go into a teaching role in the future, Newmark said.
“I want to help create a math learning community here,” Newmark said.
Newmark said he hopes to inspire students by sharing his own experiences as a teacher.
“I want to help change this misconception of math and help people realize what a beautiful subject it is,” Newmark said.
Newmark said Math 110 classes are often populated with minority students. Newmark wants to create more curriculum that is culturally responsive and impactful for students that the HSI program is specifically targeting.
“The work of EduCal, CHESS, ALLIES in STEM is incredible from what I have seen so far. It has been amazing to see the passion and dedication these people have for their goals and their mission,” Newmark said. “It is going to be a pleasure to be working with them and to be working towards that goal. There is this big mentality that we are working on this together and I really like that.”