WINTERVILLE, N.C. — He’s lived in America a little more than six months and worked for Pitt Community College a little more than two weeks, but Juan Paz Jimenez is rapidly endearing himself to coworkers and members of the community.
A native of La Ceiba, Honduras, Paz Jimenez was hired by the college to identify underserved populations within Pitt County and connect them to PCC’s programs and services. His first official day as a student recruitment specialist was Jan. 17.
“Juan is a welcome and much-needed addition to our Office of Recruitment,” said PCC Director of Recruitment and First-Year Experience John Carrere. “He brings an excitement for connecting prospective learners to higher education.”
Before moving to the United States in July to accommodate his wife’s new career opportunity, Paz Jimenez taught physics, statistics and mathematics for more than 18 years at the Bilingual School System of Tegucigalpa. He also worked several years as a consultant at Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School and taught English as a Foreign Language at an English academy.
Carrere said the combination of Paz Jimenez’s work history and bilingual ability make him an integral part of PCC’s multifaceted recruitment efforts.
“Juan has a stellar background in education and classroom management, and we see his time as an educator as a great way to connect with our high school student populations,” Carrere said. “His addition to our team will also help us reach our Spanish-speaking learner populations more effectively.”
Paz Jimenez says the opportunity to help others improve their life’s circumstances through higher education and pursue their professional goals is what drew him to his new role as a PCC recruiter. He says he is looking forward to doing his part to promote the college and improve its visibility, particularly with prospective Hispanic students.
“I’m excited about having a chance to recruit Hispanic students and support them throughout the admissions and enrollment process,” he said. “For some of them, communicating in their native tongue will make it a lot easier to share their thoughts, ideas, concerns and experiences. It will allow them to feel more valued and understood.”
But Paz Jimenez knows challenges lie ahead, making it imperative he and his co-workers develop effective recruiting strategies that appeal to students and ensure they are aware of the college’s many support services, especially members of the community’s underserved Hispanic population.
“Many Hispanic families in our area lack the necessary income to pay for college tuition,” Paz Jimenez said. “As a result, most of the potential students in those households will opt to find work and earn money to support their families instead of furthering their studies. Breaking that paradigm represents a real and great challenge for any recruiter out there.”
Ever the educational proponent, Paz Jimenez says the thought of helping members of his new community achieve their dreams will keep him motivated on the job.
“Knowing that I could be recruiting the next mayor, senator, doctor, researcher, astronaut, astrophysicist or, who knows, maybe the next U.S. president one day, is the most exciting part of my job,” he said. “I’m confident the PCC Office of Recruitment will make a difference and impact many lives with what we do out there to educate and empower people for success.”