Latino programs coordinator
In his role coordinating Latino programs, Filiberto “Fily” Bencomo helps Hispanic students successfully gain a college education.
“My biggest joy working for RCC is knowing that I can make a difference in some of the students’ lives,” he said. “It sounds like a cliché, but it is the truth. It is a great feeling knowing that the students feel comfortable enough to come and talk to me, or, like they say, ‘chill’ with me.”
Bencomo oversees three RCC Latino programs: the Oregon Leadership Institute, Club Latino, and HOLA (Helping Oregon Latinos Advance).
“I feel good about this because studies have shown that students who have a good relationship with a school staff or teacher have a better chance at being successful in school, so I know I am helping a little bit.”
RCC student Christine De Loza says Bencomo encouraged her to take a leadership role. He’s a good role model, supportive of Latino students and understands challenges they may face.
“He inspired me to run for Club Latino president. He encouraged me to step up and show that I have leadership skills to run a club.”
Bencomo graduated from South Medford High School in 2003. He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in health promotion and fitness management at Southern Oregon University, where he’s completing his MBA.
Before joining RCC in 2009, he was a fitness specialist and personal trainer at the Rogue Valley Family YMCA and a mentor for the Hispanic Academic Outreach program.
"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.”
For more information about RCC Latino programs, call 541-245-7722 or visit www.roguecc.edu/LatinoPrograms.
Annual Latino conference inspired Christine De Loza to attend RCC
Christine De Loza had always planned on going to college. But it wasn’t until she attended the Educacion, Un Mundo de Oportunidades (Education, a World of Opportunities) conference during her junior and senior years at North Medford High School that things really began to fall into place.
“College had been in my mind, but EMO gave me a clearer, broader picture of what I needed to do, and a sense that it was possible. I also realized that by attending RCC, I could get my general education credits,” said De Loza, whose goal is to transfer to Oregon State University’s veterinary program. “EMO gave me a lot of information I needed.”
Presented annually by Rogue Community College with major involvement from the college’s Club Latino, EMO has been held for the past 10 years. The one-day conference brings together several hundred Hispanic high school students from Jackson and Josephine counties for speakers, workshops, entertainment, and RCC campus tours.
De Loza, 20, grew up in Medford and graduated in 2009 from North Medford High School. Now in her second year at RCC, she is president of Club Latino and played a key role in EMO 2011.
“I saw how much work and dedication goes into it. Being able to give back to other high school students, I felt honored. It’s important to be involved and working with Latino youth. They may be having life struggles that we have experienced, and they see we’re succeeding in college.”
De Loza chose RCC partly due to cost and convenience.
“I also had friends starting here, and I just thought it would be a great experience to start at a community college and get a feel for college,” she said. “There are smaller classes and more individual time with instructors. RCC instructors are helpful, clear about class expectations, and they respect you,” she continued. “RCC’s a very comfortable learning environment. It’s worked out very well.”
De Loza is the first in her family to attend college; her brother, Brandon, just graduated from NMHS and is enrolling at RCC.
Filiberto Bencomo, RCC Latino Programs coordinator, encouraged De Loza to take a leadership role. She said he’s supportive of Latino students and understands problems they may face.
“He inspired me to run for Club Latino president,” De Loza said. “He encouraged me to step up and show that I have leadership skills to run a club. Being president has been fun, interesting and a growth experience. I’ve realized I have skills to work well with others and finish tasks in a timely manner.” A major highlight of her leadership experience was organizing Latin Fever, the end-of-year dance.
De Loza, who has wanted to be a vet since she was small child, works part time at Pear Blossom Veterinary Clinic as a kennel assistant and vet tech.
“I love working with animals. They interest me a lot, for their behavior and how they become our companions — part of the family,” she said. De Loza plans to complete RCC in fall 2012 and transfer to OSU.
“I’ve visited their vet school, and that is where I want to be,” she concluded.
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