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Hispanic population grows at LU

March 13, 2009 : Teresa Dunham

Liberty University is committed to training Champions for Christ — and now hundreds of Hispanic students can add themselves to the ranks as a “Campeón de Cristo.”

Recent statistics show that LU has 377 Hispanic students in residential programs, hailing from America and Puerto Rico and at least 12 countries, including Mexico, Argentina and Spain. There are 914 U.S. Hispanic students enrolled in Liberty University Online.

Orlando Lobaina, executive director of Global Enrollment, said he’s excited about LU’s growing Hispanic population.

“I think Liberty, because of our Christian background and the way we see the world, gives the Hispanic students an opportunity to engage quickly in our culture as a university,” he said. “It’s not a cultural shock. They’re part of the body of Christ. They can fit right into what we’re doing and be part of our student body.”

As for the high number of Hispanic students studying through LU Online, he said the program offers convenience and flexibility — something important to a culture that places high value on its “family time.”

LU has been specifically seeking out Hispanic students through networking and marketing initiatives, he said.

Since fall 2008 an LU recruiter has been living in Puerto Rico, visiting different private schools there and forming relationships with the people — and the results of that young man’s efforts are noteworthy. LU now has 25 confirmed Puerto Rican students for fall 2009; there were zero confirmed at this time last year. There are also 45 Puerto Rican students at LU Online’s satellite seminary, Seminario Teológico Bautista de Puerto Rico.

“Liberty has always had a passion for the world,” Lobaina said. “This is just a little bit of the world and how we’re trying to reach it.”

Another way LU is attracting potential Hispanic students is by providing Spanish video counseling about Financial Aid. Now, from Liberty’s new Financial Aid web page in Spanish, they can tune in to Financial Aid TV with their parents.

The school has also formed a partnership with National Hispanic Leadership Conference. LU will be represented at the Conference’s board meeting next month.

“I think with our network of relationships that we’re building in the Christian evangelical circles, we’re becoming more visible in our reaching out to Hispanic students,” Lobaina said.

In addition, LU is getting ready to launch a new brochure for families of Hispanic students to give them a taste of life at LU.

“You can see that there is a desire to learn and to explore and to [create] new initiatives in [LU’s] marketing area toward this group.”

Puerto Rican-born Lobaina, whose parents are Cuban immigrants, said LU further reaches out to its Spanish-speaking students by hosting a special convocation in their language twice a year.

“I think we’re making a difference. I think they find themselves welcome,” he said.