(July 27, 2012) -- The UTSA Office of Orientation and Family Programs recently hosted the first Spanish orientation for 50 family members. Over two days, parents and family members of future UTSA students participated in a campus tour, learned tips for student success and attended presentations by the Colleges' Freshman Advising Center, Tomas Rivera Center for Student Success, Enrollment Services Center and Financial Aid, and the University Career Center -- all in Spanish.
Each week over the summer, the Office of Orientation and Family Programs welcomes and acclimates to UTSA approximately 400 students and 225 of their family members. Staff members had noticed a growing trend of Spanish speakers who attended family orientation last summer and began the process to provide more information and services in Spanish.
"We do have student orientation leaders and staff who speak Spanish," said Jeff Mayo, associate director of orientation and family programs. "What we didn't have was a tailor-made orientation for our Spanish-speaking families."
The Office of Orientation and Family Programs began gathering advice and information from faculty and staff who could provide information on financial aid, academic support and advising, and career services. They then organized Spanish-speaking sessions that were met with high praise from family members who would have attended English sessions despite the language barrier or those who would have skipped the family orientation experience altogether.
New UTSA parent Aida Mick, who speaks English but prefers Spanish, was thrilled to have the obstacle of language removed from the experience.
"It was fantastic! I got a real understanding of what my daughter will be experiencing," she said. "Most importantly, I got clarity, and any doubts or questions I had were answered. I'm happy to know she will be safe and in good hands."
The UTSA Office of Orientation and Family Programs mission is to provide new students and their family members with a structured, comprehensive introduction to the range of opportunities at The University of Texas at San Antonio, to assist new students in their transition to the institution and to integrate them into the life of the institution.
After initial feedback, the Office of Orientation and Family Programs will assess the program's success and evaluate the need to expand the Spanish language programs for next summer.
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