College comes with challenges. And for students who are the first in their families to attend college, the challenges can be immense.
Felipe Lopez Sustaita sees students facing those challenges every day at Lansing Community College. As the coordinator of LCC’s LUCERO program, Lopez Sustaita is on the front lines of providing services for the College’s nearly 400 Hispanic and Latino students.
"LUCERO came about a little over 11 years ago because of the need perceived by our community and faculty," says Lopez Sustaita of the program that means ‘star’ or ‘brilliance’ in Spanish. "They saw that Latinos were graduating at a lower rate than other students, and that Latinos who transferred to other colleges or universities had a lower retention rate, too."
LUCERO helps connects Latino students with key services such as academic advising, career and personal counseling, and personalized tutoring. The program encourages students to attend conferences, tour four-year schools, and participate in campus cultural events and fundraisers. LUCERO also partners with Michigan State University and other organizations to recruit, mentor and advocate for Latino students from across the state and nation.
"LUCERO is unique among community colleges," says Lopez Sustaita who frequently gets requests for information from other colleges and universities. "It’s the only program of its kind in Michigan, and I would assume throughout the country."