For students from Elkhart County all the way to Puerto Rico, Adriana Ortiz, assistant director of admissions at Goshen College, is usually part of the initial stages of a student’s experience.Although many see the smaller parts of Ortiz’s job, like an email letting someone know the next step in their admissions process, she is not a traditional admissions counselor. In fact, she does much more than that, especially for Latino students at GC.
Ortiz mentors, advises and most importantly, listens to prospective and current students. While listening, she learns more about the students to understand their “why,” their potential and their challenges.
“I like to advocate for prospective students,” she said. “I like to listen to their stories.”
Ortiz spends countless hours meeting with prospective families, walking them through the GC experience and admissions process step by step.
“I like to set up a lot of meetings where we include the whole family,” Ortiz said. “We want to make sure that the communication is shared.”
“We know that in the Latino community, the college process starts with the student, but actually, at the end of the day, it’s a family decision.”
In the last two years, Ortiz has started two community education programs: “Si Se Puede” and “Familias Unidas.” In these programs, Ortiz meets monthly with students and families to educate them about the college process, expectations and resources. “We guide parents to be the strongest support system for the students,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz grew up in Mexico City and moved to the states where she earned a degree in social work. She has three children: Pamela and Erick, recent GC grads, and Ivonne, a current student.
Before working at GC, Ortiz taught parenting classes in the surrounding community. While she helped many families navigate challenges, she noticed that many issues were related to education. Parents often didn’t always understand the US education systems, which sparked her curiosity.
Although there are many things Ortiz loves about her job, she enjoys seeing her students around campus, beating the odds and succeeding in higher education.
She notices “not only the big successes, which is seeing them graduating, but the small successes … remembering the stories, remembering the challenges that they had.”
Since coming to GC eight years ago, Ortiz has seen the progression of Latino students in the community. Her mission is for GC to be the new face of Elkhart County by helping students finish college and pursue professional degrees.
GC’s recent designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution is exciting news for Ortiz and is reflective of the hard work and dedication that has been put into serving Latino students and families.
“It looks nice to say 30%, but it means tireless, tireless hours and hours of work put into the community,” Ortiz said. “I think it is a huge step in changing the face of Elkhart County.”
Although this designation was an accomplishment for GC, the challenge now is adapting the GC curriculum to better serve its current students.
On top of that, diversity in faculty and staff will be another challenge in order to represent not only Latino but the whole spectrum of diversity.
“We have to represent more of what we are saying we are,” says Ortiz.