EIU Admissions Counselor to Recruit Families, Not Just Students
As Eastern Illinois University’s newest admissions counselor, Aseret Gonzalez plans to go out and recruit families – not just students.
“The Hispanic population is very family-oriented,” Gonzalez said. “For them, it is not common practice to head off to college after graduating from high school. Rather, it is the Hispanic tradition to stay closer to home and help out the family.”
Although she will be interacting with students of all races, Gonzalez will share a certain bond with those of Hispanic heritage.
“I’m 100 percent Mexican. Both of my parents were born in Mexico,” she said. And, like those students she’s now recruiting, she faced some of the same family issues when it came to pursuing a career.
Gonzalez credits her mother – “an incredibly strong, loving and giving individual” – for providing the needed support that allowed Gonzalez to pursue her own higher education opportunities.
“Some young people don’t get that support. Their families still hold on to the old traditions, although some,” she added, “are starting to shift.”
A first-generation college student from Spring Valley, Ill., Gonzalez began attending Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill., before transferring to Eastern and earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She will graduate in May 2014 with her master’s degree in college student affairs.
“As I work with transfer students, I want to help them with that same transition,” she said. “And that means meeting and working with their families, as well.”
It will mean more than just being bilingual, too.
As she meets with prospective students and their fathers, mothers and siblings -- and sometimes even grandparents -- Gonzalez hopes to stress the importance for opportunities of higher education. She also hopes to demonstrate how a college education can expand on the Hispanic tradition of “helping the family.”
“By emphasizing the outcomes – the opportunities for their families – they will get a better feel for how this decision will impact the family as a whole,” Gonzalez said. “And I can help them understand college culture.
"I can also try and answer their questions and concerns,” she continued. “For example, they’ll want to know if their student is going to be safe, and for that, I can stress the emphasis Eastern’s places on campus safety.”
Gonzalez said that she plans to encourage families to visit Eastern’s campus to see for themselves the type of accommodations that are available for their student and to meet other Latino families. They can also share specific concerns with university administrators, letting them know ways in which the university can further enhance their experience on the Charleston campus.
“What else do you want from us?” Gonzalez said. “That’s what we’ll ask them. We need for these Hispanic families to help us learn what it takes to gain their confidence and willingness to send their students to Eastern Illinois University.”