Making a Difference: The Hispanic Council’s Impact on Campus 

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By Isabella Cerveira 

Cuyahoga Community College has a strong council to represent minorities; the heads of the Hispanic Council are Mrs. Jessica Cartagena and Mrs. Esther Velez, both representant the Council and go above and beyond to help the students. In this interview, Mrs. Cartagena and Mrs. Velez, they provided more information about how many Hispanic students are around the focus campus and the tools and plans that the Hispanic Council must help students with their academic life by helping with scholarships, events that provide immersion in the Hispanic culture, and creating a friendly environment to Hispanic students to grow academically and professionally in the community.  

Question: How many Hispanic students are currently enrolled across all four campuses of Cuyahoga Community College? 

Mrs. Cartagena: Currently, for the Spring 2024 semester, 1,500 Hispanic/Latino students are enrolled, a 10% increase from the Spring semester of 2023. 

Mrs. Velez: Out of that number 729 are full-time students. 

Question: What help does the Hispanic Council offer Hispanic students when applying for and enrolling in college? 

Mrs. Velez: The Hispanic Council not only offers bilingual support for all Hispanic students across all campuses, but we also assist students with class registration, completion of financial aid (FAFSA), English Second Language (ESL) registration, Scholarships, Foreign language academic transcript support and connections with resources within and outside the college. 

Question: How does the Hispanic Council at Cuyahoga Community College support Hispanic students in achieving their academic goals? 

Mrs. Cartagena: The Hispanic Council advises and mentors students and offers scholarships; this academic year, over 120 students have received scholarships totaling over $100,000. 

Question: How does the Hispanic Council collaborate with other groups or departments to address Hispanic students’ specific needs and challenges? 

Mrs. Cartagena: The Hispanic Council collaborates with many departments within Tri-C to ensure student success. For example, the Hispanic Council works with the ESL (English as Second Language) Department to assist with the enrollment process.  

Mrs. Velez: In addition, we maintain communication with students via newsletters that contain information of tutoring services, counseling, important registration dates, payment deadlines and campus events that can be of benefit for students to meet faculty and staff in which they can find out more of their preferred careers and built connections. We also keep track of students every semester by creating our own program events such as “Pop-In” where students can check in, register for courses, complete their FAFSA or bring forward any questions or concerns they may have. In addition, we email and call students to see how their semester is going or advise them of any situation that can prevent them from registering. 

Question: Could you tell us about any Hispanic students who have achieved success with the help of the Hispanic Council? 

Mrs. Cartagena: We are proud to highlight Harry Quinones, a Hispanic Council alumni. Harry is a successful business owner in the community. When he was a student at Tri-C, he was very active with the Hispanic Council and was a Mandel scholar as well. Harry is a great example of a student who has achieved great success and stays connected to Tri-C. In 2021, he was recognized by Tri-C Alumni with an Alumni Award.

Mrs. Velez: We can proudly say that the Hispanic Council has helped numerous students achieve success since 1992.  As mentioned, Henry Quiñones obtained his Associate of Arts in Business from Tri-C in 2019. Quiñones spoke of his journey in the Hispanic Council’s 2019 Scholarship Luncheon. He is now the owner of the successful bakery and café “787” in Cleveland’s Westside. 

Question: Are there any future events or plans from the Hispanic Council that everyone at Cuyahoga Community College should know about? 

Mrs. Cartagena: The Hispanic Council is hosting its annual Hispanic Education Conference for Latino High School Students at the Metro campus on May 9th. Scholarships are open for the Hispanic Council for the next academic year; apply now:

Mrs. Velez: We also will be having our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in the months of September and October (date TBD) where we have a celebration in every campus. 

Question: How can students join and help the Hispanic Council support Hispanic students at the college? 

Cartagena: Contact the Hispanic Council to learn more at or 216-987-5691, or 

Question: How does KeyBank work with the Hispanic Council to ensure the scholarships help students? 

Mrs. Cartagena: Key Bank donated funds to establish a scholarship fund within the Tri-C Foundation. Scholarships are awarded from this fund.  

Question: How does the Hispanic Council plan to continue attracting companies to fund scholarships for Hispanic students? 

Mrs. Cartagena: The Hispanic Council works with the Tri-C Foundation regarding fundraising/development. All fundraising/development must go through the Tri-C Foundation; departments do not reach out to companies to ask for support. All requests must be coordinated with the Tri-C Foundation. 

The interview highlights the impact of the Hispanic Council on Tri-C, students, and the community. Because of the Council’s tools and resources, Hispanic students have a staff to provide help, guidance, and support during their academic journey, and Hispanic alumni are making a difference in the community because of the hard work of the Hispanic Council. 

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