Immigrant and Refugee Student Success: How to Make it Happen

By Jill Casner-Lotto, CCCIE Director

We all understand the importance of immigrant and refugee student success, now more than ever, but how do we make it happen on our campuses and in our communities? College leaders need to articulate a clear vision and strategy. Practitioners must be equipped to translate ideas into action. Partnerships with community organizations are vital for integrating immigrants and refugees into our local economies and communities. Most importantly, immigrant and refugee students are a reservoir of knowledge and
expertise and should be active participants in developing solutions to increase college and career success.

We are delighted to launch our new CCCIE Blog that will address the various aspects of immigrant and refugee student success from different points of view, examining both strategy and tactics, exploring best practices in the classroom and the workplace, and taking some deep dives into the thorniest problems and obstacles that block success. Among the topics we’ll examine: developing ESL integrated career pathways, using data to improve immigrant/refugee education programs and services, exploring practices for supporting undocumented students, leveraging the skills of foreign-educated immigrants and refugees, and collaborating with employers and community leaders to encourage immigrant/refugee integration.

Pima Community College: Tackling “Brain Waste”
We start our blog today on the topic of skilled immigrants and refugees, some who arrive here with degrees in hand and years of professional experience, looking to translate their foreign education and experience into a viable career path in the U.S. Often times, these skilled individuals end up unemployed or working in low-wage, low-skill survival jobs. This significant “brain waste” in the skilled immigrant population is occurring while many open jobs are going unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill them.

Over the next several weeks, practitioners at Pima Community College will explain how the Transitions to Jobs program offers a low-cost and replicable approach to assisting these individuals.  See Part 1 , “Systems Navigation–Expectations vs. Reality” of this three-part series, and learn how Pima’s program, run by a dedicated team of volunteers and featuring an Immigrant College and Career Navigator, introduces students to U.S. job culture and practices. We hope you share the initiatives far and wide and offer your responses by tweeting @CCCIE or sharing on Facebook.