This University is truly diverse with no ethnic majority, much like the city of Houston. The undergraduate student body is more than 40 percent Hispanic and growing. HBU is quickly adapting to the changing demographic landscape with a new grant to support current programs targeted toward preparing bilingual educators in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, funding for translating translating several pages on the HBU website, and a new bilingual Bible study in the Baptist Student Ministry.
HBU received a $2.6 million grant in the fall to fund Project ADELANTE!: Assistance and Development in Language Acquisition for Novice Teachers of English Learners. The scope of the grant allows HBU to implement a scholarship program to help 150 undergraduate and graduate students obtain Texas educator certifications in bilingual education or English as a second language. HBU will also implement a Novice Teacher Academy for 100 new teachers of English learners. The potential effects of this five-year project are immeasurable. “If each of the 250 educators teaches 25 students per year for 10 years, then our project has the potential to improve language and literacy education for 62,500 children in the Houston area,” said assistant professor and project director Dr. Polly Trevino.
In addition to the targeted academic efforts, funding has been secured to create replicated pages of HBU content into Spanish and many Spanish-speaking parents of HBU students help in the college search. A Spanish translation of the website will benefit the parents, the students, and HBU during the college search and admissions process.
An additional effort to be more inclusive of our diverse student body is the development of the Baptist Student Ministry launched a Spanish-speaking group: BSM en Español. Jonathan Rangel, a student and youth minister at a Spanish-speaking church in Houston, is co-leader of the group. Fluent in English, Rangel’s first language is Spanish, and he is passionate about sharing the Bible and truth of God’s Word with other students in their native language. Ten students attended the first meeting, and it has grown, morphing into a bilingual Bible study. Rangel told The Pillars, “It has truly been a blessing, not only helping those who are Spanish speakers, but most importantly helping the entire community. Our first semester was a success, and I believe the spring semester will be even greater, in Jesus’ name!” A generous sponsor provided Bible study books for every student, and Pastor Rick Vasquez of Crosspoint Church in Bellaire has become the group’s official sponsor.
As Christians, we are called to go into the world to share the Gospel, but a vast majority of the world does not speak English, and a growing portion of our state and community speaks Spanish. Even more, our educational system is faced with a growing need for English language and bilingual teachers. HBU answers both of these needs as we remain committed to academic and spiritual excellence.