DENTON (UNT), Texas -- While the most elite college and university baseball players in the U.S. head to Omaha every summer for the College World Series, some of the most accomplished Hispanic high school seniors in the U.S. play their own series every summer -- the Collegiate World Series offered by the National Hispanic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Texas.
But the Collegiate World Series isn't a sports tournament. Instead, it's a program to prepare students who will be the first in their families to attend a college or university for life in higher education.
This month, the University of North Texas is one of the sites for the 2014 Collegiate World Series, which was also offered at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and the University of Tampa in Florida earlier this month.
UNT will welcome 120 incoming high school seniors to campus July 27-31 (Sunday-Thursday). The students will be "drafted" to one of 10 teams, with their "coaches" -- college and university admissions counselors -- selecting the students based on their grade point averages, PSAT scores and class rankings. During this "League Series," the teams will receive one-on-one training with the admissions counselors to learn how to strategically write a college admissions essay, conduct a personal interview, obtain strong letters of recommendation, seek out financial aid and complete a college admission application. The teams compete against each other in the mock application process.
Joe Posada-Triana, an undergraduate admissions counselor in UNT's Office of Outreach, will be one of the coaches. He said he's looking forward to working with high school students who, like him, will be the first in their families to attend a college or university.
"I want to engage them so they will understand the importance of higher education, and what it will take for them to be admitted to a university," Posada-Triana said.
The second part of the Collegiate World Series, the "Thought Series," provides the teams with challenges focusing on time management, understanding different cultures and lifestyles and decision making, to prepare for life at a college or university.
Students may apply for a Collegiate World Series program if they will be applying to a higher education institute and have already participated in two other National Hispanic Institute leadership programs -- The Great Debate for students in the ninth grade and Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session for students in 10th and 11th grades. They must also have at least a 3.3 overall high school grade point average and be enrolled in Advanced Placement or college preparatory courses.
According to the National Hispanic Institute, 98 percent of students who participate in a Collegiate World Series before their senior year in high school do enroll in a college or university, and 90 percent complete undergraduate degrees within five years. In addition, 68 percent of those graduates enroll in graduate-level programs.
UNT junior emergency management major Jonathan Guerrero attended a Collegiate World Series in 2011, before his senior year at Barbers Hill High School in Chambers County, near Houston. He said he was in the "second draft" -- the second student selected to his Collegiate World Series team.
Guerrero said the program helped him "realize my worth and value."
"I got confident that I could make it in college after all, and the skills I learned were so interdisciplinary," he said. "At that time, I knew what I wanted to do for a career, but I didn't know where I would be. I found UNT by luck, and it's been the right choice."
A volunteer firefighter since age 15, Guerrero is also earning a minor in criminal justice and plans to become a firefighter/paramedic or a state trooper. He also wants to serve in the Coast Guard Reserve.
For more information on the Collegiate World Series at UNT, contact Patrick Vasquez, director of the Office of Outreach, at 940-369-7391 or Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the National Hispanic Institute
Based in Maxwell, Texas, southeast of Austin, the National Hispanic Institute is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1979 with the mission of serving the future leadership needs of the global Hispanic community. It is the largest Hispanic Latino youth organization in the United States.