Tonight, Feb. 2, Goshen College will hold its second Latino scholarship dinner, a banquet that celebrates the college’s Latino students and their accomplishments. The meal is a fundraiser opportunity to provide adequate funding for scholarships for these Latino students, who now make up 20 percent of Goshen’s student body.

In addition to Latino students and faculty, alumni, donors, business owners, educators and other associates who have shown interest in Goshen College and its Latino population have been invited to listen to the stories of these students. Students will elaborate on some of the challenges, successes and other stories they’ve taken part of thus far in their college career.

Former State Representative Rebecca Espinoza Kubacki will emcee, with students speaking at various points throughout the evening. Isaac Torres, founder & president of InterCambio Express, will give the introduction to the keynote speaker for the evening, Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas, the executive director at the Center for Arts and Culture at Notre Dame.

“To thrive in today’s increasingly complex nation, Indiana needs contributions from people of all racial and ethnic groups,” said Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations. “For Hoosiers to make their optimal contributions, Indiana must make available a postsecondary education, including public and private colleges and universities, for all who seek it.”

Aguirre went on to explain that Latinos are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. Goshen College is taking steps towards becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI, an undergraduate institution with at least 25 percent Latino enrollment.

“We have made extraordinary progress over the past 11 years,” said Aguirre. “Since 2006, Goshen College has dramatically increased minority student enrollment. For fall 2016, 36 percent of traditional undergraduate students were minority or international students (26 countries), compared with 17.7 percent in 2005-2006.”

Out of this growth in minority student growth, Latino students have seen some of the biggest growth in representation, seeing a surge from 4 percent in 2006 to 20 percent in 2017.

“We are hoping that in two years, fall 2019, Goshen College will become a HIS (Hispanic Serving Institution),” said Aguirre.

During the first Latino Scholarship Dinner in 2015, $50,000 were raised in a single night for Latino students. This time around, Aguirre is confident they will do even better.

“Besides financial support, the Latino scholarship dinner is an opportunity for Latino students and alumni to share their stories -- what brought them to Goshen College, their career goals, their accomplishments and their dreams,” he said. “It’s also a way for community leaders to better understand the contributions Latinos can make. Latinos are a growing segment of Elkhart County’s population, so the better they do, the more our community will thrive.”