“Being a Hispanic Serving Institution means creating a hospitable environment for any student, specifically our Hispanic population, and also serving as a role model,” says WNMU Assistant Director of Mariachi Plata, Media Technology Services Manager, MEChA sponsor, piano instructor, and Staff Senate President Michael T. Acosta. “It’s about showing our students it’s OK to be successful and pursue whatever dreams they have.”
To Michael, WNMU’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution is more than a label. He makes sure he’s always willing to get to know students and help them navigate campus life. “I like to learn students’ names as quickly as possible. I offer to help with things outside of my job duties. If they need a guide to financial aid or need somebody to walk them to the business office, I do it.”
As a sponsor of MEChA, the student group that hosted last week’s Chicano Street Fest on campus, Michael helps “students to voice their opinions and be politically active without associating with a political party while maintaining the interests of the Hispanic population.”
In his role as Assistant Director of Mariachi Plata, Michael takes his responsibility to recruit students to WNMU seriously. “This is a safe environment for the Hispanic culture, and we do a lot to make students and their parents feel at home. We know there needs to be a personal touch, too,” he says.
Overall, Mariachi Plata has been an avenue for interaction with students who may not have had the extra assistance to get into a university or continue their educations once admitted, Michael says. “It’s allowed us to develop a bond with students so they know they have somebody to fall back on when times are tough. We’ve been successful in keeping students around.”
This piece is part of a series WNMU produced in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and Hispanic Serving Institution Week.