When Carolina Roman graduated from Cleveland State in the spring of 2016, the mother of six voted Most Distinguished Graduate didn’t realize that she would soon be employed with the college as the Hispanic/Latino student support specialist.
Since Ms. Roman has been serving in this role, the college has seen a significant increase in Hispanic/Latino students. Ms. Roman is responsible for providing outreach to prospective students, as well assisting in monitoring and support services to improve retention and completion rates among this particular population of students.
“With the Hispanic/Latino population growing throughout our service area, we wanted to be sure that we are doing all that we can to connect with those residents so that they can take advantage of all of the programs we offer at Cleveland State,” said Dr. Michael Stokes, vice president for Student Services. “Carolina had been a successful student at the college, and was selected as our Distinguished Graduate for 2016, and we were excited that she was available to come on board in a position working with Hispanic/Latino students. She does a great job connecting with prospective students throughout our five counties, and also provides valuable support to students to encourage their success.”
Ms. Roman said, “I love my job. I love my coworkers and my supervisor, and I love to help people, so I was definitely interested when I found out about this position. I know first-hand how hard it can be for Hispanics to come to college. I know what it’s like to learn a new language, and I can definitely relate to them, so anything I can do to make them feel comfortable because of the language barrier, I’m going to help them.”
Ms. Roman can relate to CSCC students in other ways, too. She remembers being scared to go back to school as an adult student. She thought she was going to be the only older student with an accent, but said she realized there were so many international students, as well as older students at CSCC.
Ms. Roman said she is able to assist Spanish speaking students and their parents with any questions they may have about the college enrollment process. “When people find out that I’m here and can speak Spanish, sometimes they feel more comfortable coming and asking questions. I can help them with any questions they may have—I want them to know I’m here to help them with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the admissions application, the scholarship application, I’ll help them in any way I can.”
One of Ms. Roman’s goals for her position is to help Hispanic students to become more involved on campus. Angie Giraldo, president of the International Club, said, “Carolina has helped me feel comfortable in my own culture. I’ve referred some of my friends to her. Because she went to school here, she knows what it’s like and she is always so willing to help. Her story is very inspirational, as well—she has many children to take care of, but was able to graduate with honors. She is someone I look up to.”
Ms. Roman continued, “Education changes lives. Cleveland State changed my life. I used to be a stay at home mom, but because of CSCC so many doors have opened for me, so many opportunities. I feel so grateful to have this position and so thankful for the people who helped me get here.”