Centro Hispano's New Mentoring Program Connects Latino High School Students with Professionals

NWA Centro Hispano New Mentorship Program

Photo via Centro Hispano en Arkansas Facebook Page

By Pamela Acosta

The Centro Hispano in Jonesboro has launched a new mentoring program by combining two existing programs.

“We combined our Hispanic Emerging Leaders Program (HELP) and the Northeast Arkansas Hispanic Professionals Network (NEAHPN) to create this new program,” said Gomez.

The new mentoring program paired 26 Latino high school students with 26 working Latino professionals who will be their mentors throughout the current school year.

The purpose of HELP is to help high school students plan for their futures, including pursuing a college education, entering a chosen career field, and learning how to lead and serve peers and the community.

The students from – from sophomore year to seniors – will meet with the professionals monthly to support their academic and professional goals. They will also meet with their mentor three times in addition to the mandatory meetings at the Hispanic Center. Students will also access various leaders and mentors from within the community.

Students will complete activities focused on trust and teamwork while learning from local leaders in education, healthcare, business, and manufacturing. They will also receive career counseling, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling to enhance their skills and talents.

“We want to represent our community and to give back to the community,” Gomez said. “There is nothing like this in Northeast Arkansas and none in central or northwest Arkansas, but we would like to see this expand throughout the state.”

The mentors form part of the second Jonesboro program, NEAHPN, which aims to create a network of active Latino professionals in Northwest Arkansas.

The group also raises funds for the NEAHPN scholarship program for Latino students attending college in Arkansas.

The students and mentors were paired after completing a questionnaire and matching common career paths and interests. Students will graduate from the program on April 2nd, 2023.

Both the HELP and NEAHPN programs are funded by several organizations, including the United Way of NEA, the Windgate Foundation, the Community Development Block Grant (City of Jonesboro), the Centerpoint Energy Foundation, Arkansas State University’s Arkansas Out of School Network – ESSER III funds and the Ray Solem Foundation.