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Interview with: Cosette Gutierrez, Executive Director, Latino U College Access (LUCA)

Q: What is LUCA?
A: Latino U College Access (LUCA) is a nonprofit organization that transforms lives by making college dreams a reality for low-income, first-generation, Latino youth. Our program is all about empowering and supporting Latino students on their journeys to and through college. This program was founded in 2012 and has morphed into a six-year commitment to our students. They join us as juniors in high school and stay with us all the way through college completion and beyond. LUCA is all about making sure students have access to opportunity and making the right choices that are the best academic and financial fit for themselves and their family.

Q: Why did you make a Pathways Pledge?
A: Jason Chapin of the Westchester County Association (WCA) reached out and said, “Hey, this is something that we would love for LUCA to be a part of this,” and we said, “why not?” Our Latino students are typically the first in their family to graduate 99% of the time, who frequently return home to start their careers. Partnerships with local employers are vital to ensure a vibrant professional environment that is receptive to hiring talented Latino graduates to be part of their workforce.

Q: Have you focused on any particular activity that fulfills the pledge?
A: Yes. Part of what we do is provide career workshops to our students so that they understand what the different vocations are, and what it looks like to graduate from college and be a contributing member of the community. Our pledge is to continue developing partnerships with employers who present information about their company and the different jobs and career tracks available.

Q: So what would you say to encourage other educators and employers to take the Pathways Pledge?
A: I love to say that it takes a village. There’s not one path that fits all students and it’s important for our community to work together to identify what those options and pathways are and make it as clear as possible. That way it’s easier on the students AND the families. Ultimately the end game is that employers are getting the talent that they need and our students are fulfilled in their careers.

Thank you Cosette, for leading the way and making a Pathways Pledge! We encourage employers and educators to take five minutes and make an action pledge.