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New higher education opportunities headed to Latino community in Knoxville

A partnership between Centro Hispano and Pellissippi State Community College aims to bring more people in the Latino community a chance to fulfill their dreams.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When some families move to the U.S., some people may lose their chance to get an education. It happened to a mother who moved from Mexico.

Claudia Mata said she always wanted to further her education, but many things got in the way. She got pregnant and had three children in total, and later had to overcome a situation involving domestic violence. For around a decade, she ended up putting her dreams on hold to raise children.

Spanish Version: Nuevas oportunidades de educación superior para la comunidad latina de Knoxville

"It was extremely hard," she said. "Going back to school was not an option. My kids needed to eat and I needed to work."

Now, she works for Centro Hispano in Knoxville. The nonprofit advocates for the Latino community and communities of color, and now they are bringing English courses to Pellissippi State Community College. 

Through the partnership, Mata will have a chance to further her education while helping raise her family.

"When I found out about this partnership, oh my god I was so happy," she said.

Organizers said they will offer English classes, workshops on soft skills, and financial education. Centro Hispano said they hope the partnership breaks down some barriers between the Latino community and Knoxville.

"We need to see ourselves in all spaces, to imagine ourselves in those spaces, to become the people we want to become," said Claudia Caballero, who also works with Centro Hispano.

Pellissippi State Community College is the same place where Mata got her GED. She said that returning to the campus may help her dreams come true.

Classes will be on the Division Street campus. To learn more about the program, an open house will be available on Aug. 19.