MAPS for student success

How K-State’s MAPS program helped a student’s dream become reality

For students who come from multicultural backgrounds, the road to obtaining a college degree can be one with unforeseen obstacles. K-State’s Multicultural Academic Program Success (MAPS) aims to assist multicultural students with interests in business, agriculture, and engineering. For industrial engineering student Gonzalo Alcantar, the MAPS program was the key to helping him achieve his academic dreams.

“Growing up I knew I wanted to be an engineer,” Alcantar said. “I had a lot of experience with camps in the summer and doing a lot of crafts by myself, so I knew that I wanted to be someone that created something or made something better.”

For Alcantar, hard work, dedication, and doing your absolute best were qualities instilled in him from a young age. “My parents aren’t from America; they came from Mexico, and they’re citizens now. They have worked harder than anyone to get where they are and that has had a big impact on me,” he said. “I feel like I owe it to them to get a degree and become successful. They have done so much for me and my family and I want to be sure I repay them as best I can for all of their sacrifices.”

Alcantar knows that he has all the tools to become successful, however, he also is quick to point out that without the help of the MAPS program the road to achieving his academic goals would be a lot more challenging. “Without the help from MAPS, I don’t think I probably would have come to K-State, just because there were a lot of other places that were offering more aid,” Alcantar said. “Once I got accepted into the program and I saw everything this wonderful university had to offer I knew there was no place I would rather be.”

The MAPS program also gave Alcantar the opportunity to have an internship. “K-State really pushes internship and internship opportunities coming into the MAPS program,” Alcantar said. “They already introduced us to Cargill and Exxon Mobil and kind of everybody that was helping us out, so we really got to experience how to talk to them and other big businesses in our field.”

Thanks to the knowledge he gained in the MAPS program his freshman year, Alcantar was able to apply it to gain an internship the following year. “In my sophomore year I was able to go back and land a co-op position for spring 2020, and I was able to somewhat take a semester off, but still be on track to graduation and be able to kind of go get that experience that I wanted,” Alcantar said. “I learned a lot from that and now I can come back to K-State and have more experience and so much more to give to my community and give to my school. It’s going to help me because I have real-world experience that is already applying to the classes I’m taking right now.”

Alcantar hopes that future students who take advantage of the MAPS program can not only benefit from it academically but also not be stressed about college finances due to the aid it provides. “I hope that future MAPS students gain reassurance that people care and are rooting for them to succeed,” Alcantar said. “I hope that they feel like some weight has been lifted off their shoulders, that if they work hard and put their heart and effort into their academic career then everything will work out.”

“At times it’s hard to be the best student you can be, but I hope the MAPS program  can do for them what it did for me, help them see that people care and they should keep pushing and striving to be the greatest version of themselves.”

By James Dalton Burton

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