By Dr. Rose Martinez
It was not your typical high school visit, but that was precisely why DDCE’s Pre-College Hispanic Initiatives and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection joined forces. Together, the partners created a unique and memorable experience for 57 English Language Learners (ELL) from Austin’s Akins High School. “The catalyst was Dr. Cinthia Salinas, Associate Professor in the College of Education, who asked if a program could be designed to provide ELL students with a brief history of Latin America and the significance of Latinos in the region,” explained Dr. Rose Martinez, Executive Director for UT Outreach of South Texas and Pre-College Hispanic Initiatives.
Dr. Martinez welcomed the students to campus and Patrick Patterson, Executive Director for UT Outreach Austin, invited students to join the local pre-college awareness program. A panel of undergraduates shared personal accounts of their transition from high school to college and encouraged the students to consider applying to UT Austin. Afterward, students toured the campus including stops at DKR Memorial Stadium, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin Collection.
Ms. Margo Gutierrez, Librarian for U.S. and Latino Studies at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, arranged for the students to receive a rare opportunity to glimpse history. She displayed a few artifacts from the 1500s and provided a mini-presentation on the impact of Latinos in the Americas.
Margo Gutierrez, Nettie Lee Benson Collection Librarian, offers comparisons of a current map and a map painted in the 1500s.
“UT Austin has one of the most outstanding collections of Latin American works and artifacts and who better to describe a few of these historical gems in the collection than Ms. Gutierrez,” Martinez explained.
Ms. Gutierrez provided examples of the types of books, music CDs, conference recordings, and rare collections available to the public. “On a large table, she placed a rare map and a letter from the 1500s for students to examine. The students were excited to learn that the museum has such a vast collection of materials,” shared Dr. Martinez. Dr. Salinas closed the program by challenging the students to take active steps now to prepare for a successful transition to college.
Akins High School students enjoy the view outside the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum.