GateWay Community College’s GANAS Latinx Institute Develops Tomorrow’s Leaders

Monday, February 13, 2023

When GateWay Community College was designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, the work was only just beginning. As a majority-minority institution, with over 49.5% of the student population self-identifying as Hispanic, there was a need to develop programming to help foster a sense of community and develop the leaders of tomorrow. 

According to the Center for Employment Equity, Hispanic men make up only 1.3 percent of executive-level leadership nationwide, with Hispanic women only slightly ahead at 1.5 percent. Under the Equitable Xperience Infused Through Out (ÉXITO) Title V grant, awarded to the college in 2019, the development of a new program was essential in reinforcing the HSI designation was not only a title but a movement geared toward the empowerment of GateWay’s Hispanic students.

The solution was found in the GateWay Academic Nexus Advancing Students (GANAS) program, which aims to create a network of Latinx – and/or Hispanic-identifying student leaders who contribute to building experiences that strengthen social and cultural inclusion at GateWay and beyond. Students have the opportunity to connect with mentors, colleagues, and other professionals who share similar experiences having themselves navigated predominately white leadership spaces, at times when Latinx opportunities were still emerging.

“Ganas,” –a Spanish word with multiple meanings, is often used as a way to describe “winning”, or expressing a strong effort and desire to succeed.   

The 2022/23 GANAS cohort was recently invited to participate in a business acumen session with local Latinx and Hispanic business owners. The session introduced students to fundamental elements of effective leadership, allowing students to engage in a business case study competition with local entrepreneurs. Students gained real-world perspectives by presenting a business analysis that captured the issues at hand, possible solutions, and action items for critical stakeholders.

“Having local Latinx and Hispanic business owners participate was important for our GANAS students to practice their networking skills, ask questions for insight, and expand their network of Latinx and Hispanic leaders they can connect with in their journey into careers and workforce,” said Program Coordinator, Mikaela Figueroa.

Moving into its third year, GANAS hopes to attract even more students for the upcoming academic year. “We are eager to share this program with more students. The college will see intentional leadership and co-curricular development among Hispanic and Latinx-identifying students and correlating improvement of retention, cultural competency, and inclusiveness in our campus environment,” said Figueroa. 

GANAS is now accepting student and mentor applications for the 2023-2024 academic year. To learn more about GANAS and our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, visit