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Dalton State Celebrates HSI Status

Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State College, overcame bad weather, happy tears, and language challenges to welcome guests to Dalton State’s recent campus celebration in both Spanish and English.

Members of the College community and the Greater Dalton community gathered on the campus yesterday to celebrate Dalton State’s status as a Hispanic Serving Institution, the first in the state of Georgia and one of the first in the Southeastern United States. Rain forced the event indoors, but did little to dampen the spirits of students, faculty, staff, and community members who assembled to celebrate.

“Bienvenidos a Dalton State y gracias por ayndarnos a celebrar este logro importante de oficialmente llegar a ser la primera institución designade como una Institución al Servicio del Hispano en el estado de Georgia,” she said, “Welcome to Dalton State, and thank you for helping us celebrate this important achievement of becoming the first officially designated Hispanic Serving Institution in the State of Georgia.

“I am honored that our community sees the value of a college education and that the families in our community are entrusting their sons and daughters to Dalton State,” she added.

It was an emotional day for Dalton State which has worked hard to grow its population of Latino students to 25 percent to qualify for HSI status. As an HSI Dalton State is eligible to apply for federal grants that will benefit the entire campus, grants that can fund projects ranging from facilities and equipment to academic programs to support services for students.

Tricia Chastain, executive vice chancellor of the University System of Georgia, represented Chancellor Steve Wrigley at the event and congratulated President Venable and her leadership team for the work that went into becoming Georgia’s first HSI. “You have remained mission-focused serving the needs of this region, partnering with industry to provide academic programs that align with workforce needs and serving the needs of students from your region.”

President Venable acknowledged the work of Quincy Jenkins, Dalton State’s Director of Hispanic and Latino Outreach, noting that “without the exceptional work and relationship-building of Quincy, Dalton State would not be celebrating this accomplishment today.”

Jenkins deflected praise and redirected it to the Latino students of Dalton State. “Without you and your hard work, your dreams, your tenacity, your dedication this would never have happened.

“No matter what you hear anyone say, you are welcomed here at Dalton State,” he said. “It’s not that we want you here; we need you here. You are an important thread in the fabric of this institution.”

Sharing sentiments of her fellow Roadrunners, Student Government President Carolina Gomez said that the being designated an HSI will “put Dalton State on the map as a first choice destination” and “gives us inclusion in the community, not only culturally but professionally as well. By achieving this, Dalton State College shows how important the Hispanics are for the United States and how the Hispanic population could bring more value to a great country like America.

“Being recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution is far more meaningful to our community than many would expect,” she said, quoting another student who said, “As a Hispanic and first generation student, I was nervous when I first started at Dalton State, but I realized quickly that the College understood me and wanted to help. DSC has a large population of first generation students and has evolved to help them through the process of enrolling, financial aid, and learning how to be successful.”

State Rep. Kasey Carpenter and Sen. Chuck Payne presented a proclamation from the Georgia General Assembly. Mike Babb, former chair of the Whitfield County Commission filling in for current chair Lynn Laughter who was out of town, read a proclamation from the Board, and Dalton Mayor Dennis Mock proclaimed the day Dalton State College Hispanic Serving Institution Designation Day on behalf of the City Council.