Program Overview A Transformative Pathway
The Caminos Program provides Latina/o and Indigenous students a hands-on, inclusive experience with higher education opportunities and career planning. We address students’ specific academic needs while affirming their cultural and racial identity to inspire high school graduation and college readiness. The curriculum is asset-based, meaning we value the strengths students bring to the table instead of characterizing them by inadequacies. Infused with service learning and youth empowerment, this transformative pathway prepares students to attend and graduate from higher education institutions.
Caminos began in the spring of 2015 as a partnership between Fort Collins High School (FCHS), CSU’s El Centro Cultural Center, and the School of Education faculty and staff. It is a primarily grant-funded project overseen by RISE Scholar Antonette Aragon.
Every year, the program serves 90-100 students enrolled in the Spanish Literacy Program at FCHS. Throughout the year, they form positive relationships with each other and their CSU student mentors, who are primarily first-generation college students and Spanish speakers. Participants are connected to professional and educational resources as they develop an internal drive to achieve their goals.
In 2016, four program graduates were accepted to CSU.
“We want the students to take on a cause or issue, so they can see that they are social justice agents in the community, and can be a force for change. We want students to feel that who they are deserves to be represented.”
Program Structure What We're About
The Caminos follows a year-long curriculum interspersed with projects, hands-on lessons and outreach events. It is entwined with the FCHS Spanish Literacy Program.
- Campus visits to Colorado State University: these visits involve campus tours, learning what resources are available on campus, and experiencing a day in the life of a college student
- Annual luncheon with community Latina/o leaders: at the end of the year, students have an opportunity to meet the prominent Latina/o leaders of northern Colorado and hear their stories of struggle and triumph first-hand. Students also get to share their own stories and show the work they have done throughout the program.
- Exploration of race, ethnicity, and cultural wealth: classroom discussions about discrimination and community cultural wealth, along with projects about the influence of Latinos on U.S. history, help students develop their own voice.
- Career planning and training: students learn how to write effective resumes, go through mock interviews, and practice professional interaction and etiquette. These lessons help students build professional skills and self-confidence.
- Service learning through mentorship: CSU mentors train the high school students to mentor approximately 46 local middle and elementary school students. This system involves Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) where students are able to do research to improve their lives and communities.
“It shows that just because we have a Hispanic heritage or we can speak Spanish doesn’t mean it’s any harder for us to go to college. It made me think about actually going to college.”
CSU Mentors Be a CSU Fellow
About 22 CSU mentors or “fellows” work in the FCHS Spanish literacy classrooms where they create safe and inclusive spaces for high school students to explore their race, ethnicity, and cultural wealth.
Fellows share the academic and cultural strengths and challenges they have encountered when pursuing higher education, and build healthy relationships Caminos students.
All CSU mentors must apply to be admitted to the Caminos Program. Once selected, mentors are trained in social justice and culturally relevant teaching strategies. Mentors must commit to attending Caminos events for the length of one school year.
- Must have a minimum 2.0 GPA
- Provide a written Statement of Purpose
- Interview with Dr. Antonette Aragon
To apply, contact Dr. Antonette Aragon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Fort Collins High School Alumni, I had a passion to help my fellow Latino Lambkins. I wanted to provide them with an experience that I did not have while I was in high school.