The girls pile into a classroom on the third floor of Keating Hall in clusters of three and four. Laughing and teasing in a mixture of Spanish and English, the middle- and high-school students carry some of the energy of the Bronx's Latino neighborhoods onto Fordham University's Rose Hill campus.
The adolescents chat with Fordham undergraduates about homework and life in college dorms, their families, boys, and what sort of work they might do when they grow up. Before long they settle at desks and turn their attention to three young professional women, visiting speakers who begin to explain how they navigated the sometimes-rocky shoals of life as a young Latina in the United States.
"Dream beyond your ten blocks," Pilar Larancuent, a youth development coordinator at a New York City social service agency, tells the girls. "You are more than what you are fed by the entertainment media."
Each Wednesday during the school year, the teenagers visit Fordham to meet with college students through a program called Mentoring Latinas. It pairs the girls with Latina college students, paid mentors to whom the girls can relate and on whom they can rely for support and encouragement. The goal is to expose young Latinas from the Bronx to worlds beyond their neighborhoods, in hopes of increasing their educational aspirations and opening doors for academic and career success......