Latino Programs coordinator 'pays it forward'
In his new role as coordinator of Latino Programs at Rogue Community College, Filiberto “Fily” Bencomo is helping Hispanic students gain a college education.
He’s repaying those who helped him achieve academic success, he says, by keeping alive the spirit of encouragement and caring that was shown him by teachers and family members.
Bencomo understands the complexity of learning a new language and culture. He had just turned 14 when his family moved from Mexico to Medford, and he began eighth grade speaking no English. “It was a challenge, especially starting a new school system I didn’t understand at all,” he recalled.
Through hard work and perseverance, Bencomo graduated from South Medford High School in 2003 with a 3.5 GPA. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon University, graduating with honors in 2007.
Now 24, Bencomo joined the RCC staff fall term 2009 and oversees three RCC Latino programs: the Oregon Leadership Institute, Club Latino, and HOLA (Helping Oregon Latinos Advance). “I really want to help students succeed,” he said. “When I first came to the U.S. and was an ESL student, I had bilingual teachers who helped me. But I had friends who didn’t get help, and they didn’t make it in school. Without that support I wouldn’t be here.”
RCC’s Oregon Leadership Institute (OLI) enlists RCC students as mentors for Latino high school students. Participants learn leadership, team building, conflict resolution, intercultural communication, and public speaking.
Bencomo serves as advisor to Club Latino. The group’s activities include sponsoring Educacion, Un Mundo de Oportunidades (Education, A World of Opportunities). Held each February, the one-day conference brings together Hispanic high school students for an inspirational and educational day of speakers, workshops, entertainment, and RCC campus tours. “My goal is to help more Latinos get into college, not just RCC,” he said.
For more information about RCC Latino Programs, call 541-245-7722 or visit www.roguecc.edu/LatinoPrograms.
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