Students from Columbus City Schools gather for the 2018 Latinx Role Models Day hosted by LASER. Credit: Courtesy of Laser

More than 500 Latinx students, grades 3-12, will join mentors, faculty and staff Friday in the Ohio Union for the annual Latinx Role Models Day.

The all-day event, hosted by Ohio State’s Latinx Space for Enrichment and Research (LASER) organization, strives to ensure that students are confident and cut making a smooth transition from high school to higher education.

Frederick Aldama, founder of LASER and an arts and humanities professor at Ohio State, said he knew he had to do something to help the growing, diverse Latinx population in Columbus.

“We want to help them understand that there are role models out there, people they can talk to that can understand their experiences and who were in their shoes,” Aldama said.

Ohio State admissions counselors will also be in attendance as a resource for students with questions about applications, financial aid and the next steps they should be taking toward college.

The day will consist of small workshops hosted by mentors from different fields, such as medicine, academia, parks and recreation and finance, along with a tour of the university.

Yuri Arteaga, a fourth-year in accounting and mentor for LASER, will be one of the panelists during the day who will have the opportunity to share his experiences at Ohio State and provide tips about college life with those in attendance.

“It is a great opportunity for students from Columbus to actually get to see a great college and really become inspired to pursue higher education,” Arteaga said.

Along with other Ohio State students and alumni, the panel will discuss scholarship, financial aid, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications and other methods that can assist students in funding their higher education.

“In just one decade we have created a permanent pipeline into Ohio State,” Aldama said. “This year we yielded six Morrill scholars, one Maximus scholar and about 15 to 20 college admissions.”

Some students received scholarships from other schools as well, such as Ohio University.

De’Chelle Buckhalter, a third-year in Spanish and mentor for LASER, had the opportunity to give back to her own high school when she found out it was one of the locations where LASER mentors volunteer.

“I’m a first-generation college student so I didn’t really know how to navigate life after high school,” Buckhalter said.

She said she is grateful for the opportunity to help Latinx students in Columbus get the college assistance that she didn’t receive.

Latinx Role Models day is one of LASER’s signature events and will be held Friday in the Ohio Union Performance Hall.