La Salle University’s BUSCA program, an associate degree program for Spanish-dominant speakers, was a finalist for the Excelencia in Education award. Excelencia in Education is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization whose mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.
“As one of this year’s five national finalists, BUSCA is at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students, and we congratulate them for their current and continued efforts,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education.
Started in 1993, BUSCA is an innovative program that offers the region’s growing Spanish-speaking community the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree. Students begin the program with an intensive 12-credit course in English and then transition to classes completely in English. Students study full time for five semesters, attending class in the evening, allowing them to work during the day. To provide students with the best possible chance of success, the program provides bilingual tutors, and motivational, academic, and financial aid counselors.
Currently, 172 students are enrolled in BUSCA, ranging from recent high school graduates to grandparents. Nearly 75 percent of the students continue on to bachelor’s degree programs. The Director of the BUSCA program is Sr. Suzanne Neisser, RSM.
For this year’s competition, 195 programs were nominated at three academic levels: associate, baccalaureate, and graduate. These programs demonstrate broad geographical representation in the effort to contribute to Latino student success and represent 22 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Top honors went to programs run by El Paso Community College, Texas Tech University, and Carlos Albizu University, San Juan Campus. All of the programs recognized during the Celebraciòn de Excelencia 2011 event are listed in the latest edition of “What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education.”