College Makes Strides in Increasing Diversity


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Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the second-largest community college in the nation. Currently, 52% of its students are from minority racial or ethnic groups including Latinos. A large part of this is due to the school’s longstanding “Pathways to the Baccalaureate” program.

The program is a consortium of 10 area educational institutions including NOVA, area public schools, and George Mason University and provides outreach to high school students that are more likely to face obstacles entering college.

“The program is designed to breach the barriers of higher education,” said Everett Eberhardt, director of equity, diversity, and ADA/504 compliance at NOVA. “The purpose is to increase access to education for at-risk students.”

Founded in 2005, the Pathways program gives underrepresented students with aspirations of continuing their education. Students begin their education at NOVA before moving on to George Mason or another four-year institution.

“The focus is on applicants’ barriers, motivation, and potential rather than … past academic performance,” says Ken Hilker-Balkossoon, program director for Pathways to the Baccalaureate and executive director of College and Career Pathways. [Our] counselors do a comprehensive one-on-one intake meeting with students, where they get more specific information on each participant’s strengths, needs, and concerns.”

According to 2013 data, 90% of the students in the program continued on to their second semester and 81% returned for their sophomore year.

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