June 10, 2016 : By Drew Menard
|Lourdes Colón (left), a faculty support coordinator, and Monica Hardin, director of Liberty University en Español, work to make Christian education more accessible to the Hispanic community.|
Spanish-speaking students now have the opportunity to take online courses presented entirely in their native language.
Liberty University’s Spanish program, Liberty en Español (LUE), has provided online bilingual courses for five years and has recently directed its focus to offering degrees where all course materials, lectures, and support services are completely in Spanish.
LUE offers a bachelor’s degree in religion and a master’s degree in Christian ministries. It also offers eight associate degrees and five certificate programs ranging from business to education, psychology, and paralegal studies.
The new emphasis on 100-percent Spanish degrees is helping LUE reach its goal of making Liberty’s distinct Christian education more accessible to the Spanish-speaking community.
“I see the tremendous contributions that members of this population make to society, and I want to ensure that the opportunities for education and professional training are widely accessible to the greater Hispanic community,” said Monica Hardin, director of LUE.
Hardin, who was raised in Colombia, South America, has a deep desire to continue working within the Hispanic community, both domestically and internationally.
“Domestically, we have a growing Hispanic population desiring the opportunity to grow and train in multiple career areas,” she said. “By providing degree programs that are 100 percent in Spanish, we eliminate one of the major barriers to higher education for many members of this population.”
Hardin called LUE the “next big thing” in higher education.
“We are dreaming that this program can solve big problems,” she said. “We want to solve the problem of illiteracy in underserved areas of the U.S. and Latin America by training more teachers. We want to solve public health problems by training Spanish-speaking health care professionals. … We cannot do this on our own, but God can. And we are working and waiting expectantly.”
Lourdes Colón, a faculty support coordinator for LUE, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She said that when she came to Virginia to attend college, she realized that an education designed especially for those with a language barrier is important.
“LUE is significant, because it makes it easier for a Spanish speaker to learn in their native tongue,” she said. “There is a desire in me to see the Hispanic population — specifically families in the working class that want to further their education but cannot make it to campus — succeed in completing or furthering their education online and in their own language,” she said.
Colón added that LUE is one of the only Spanish programs offered online at this time.
“It is important for Liberty to have the LUE program, because there is virtually no competition out there in the U.S. for online, 100-percent Spanish education,” she said. “This opens up the opportunity to reach out to a community that has not been reached in online education. We get emails from students saying how grateful they are to have a program like LUE. That encourages us to keep moving forward.”
Liberty University remains the nation’s largest private, nonprofit online educator, with over 95,000 enrolled in more than 250 degrees online.