Delgado A-Z: ESL Program, A Global Learning Community

By: Dee Shedrick
Escaping imprisonment camps by boat, Vietnamese refugees (also considered boat people) were given political asylum after staying in American refugee camps in the Philippines during the Vietnam War. More than 30 years ago, Vietnamese immigrants settled in many different cities in the United States and a number of them found their way to New Orleans and made it their home. As a result, Delgado Community College began to increase the number of English courses offered to non-native speakers in 1969. Because of the continued demand for classes, it officially started its English as a Second Language program in 1978. Delgado was the "pioneer" ESL program in the New Orleans area with 460 students currently enrolled and 46 nationalities represented. In the past, Vietnamese students comprised the highest percentage of enrollment in the ESL program, but today, the baton has been passed on to the Hispanic community.

    Students enroll in the ESL program for many reasons, but the main reason is to improve or learn English. Some students enroll because they want a chance to get better jobs, so brushing up on their communication skills will help them to be more marketable professionally, while others just want to develop better conversational skills. However, many have academic goals of obtaining an associate degree from Delgado or transferring to a four-year college to obtain a bachelor's degree in pursuit of a new career. Regardless of their individual goals, students must successfully complete studies in four categories: conversation, composition, grammar and reading. Before students get started, they must take a placement test to determine the level of coursework they will be given based on their needs from beginning, intermediate and advanced. It takes six semesters, or 21 hours, for a full-time student to complete the program. ESL is an academic and developmental program, so students receive a certificate of completion, rather than a degree. However, advanced level students are given the chance to take an exit exam and change to an academic major.

Pictures by Erika Canales from ESL's annual International Festival
on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at Delgado’s City Park Campus.

Nogaya Gueya and Mohamed Sy in typical clothing of Senegal

Lonys Bermudez and Eleonora Arguello display beautiful trenchilla dresses of Nicaragua

     Not only does ESL teach students to be fluent in English, but it also teaches cultural awareness. Betty Speyrer, department chair of ESL, American Sign Language and foreign languages said, "Students need to learn how to live in a different culture by not only acquiring knowledge of U.S. history and values, but also developing the attitudes of tolerance, understanding and respect for others while maintaining pride and appreciation of their own heritage."

    The ESL program has produced many success stories. In fact, Maria Cisneros, who completed the program in 1986 and graduated from Delgado with degrees in computer information systems and business administration, has worked in Delgado's Registrar office for more than 15 years. She continued her studies at Tulane University, receiving a Bachelor of Science, then years later enrolled at the University of New Orleans, to obtain a Master of Business Administration. In spite of those accomplishments, she still credits the ESL program for helping her get where she is today:

    "I arrived in New Orleans in August of 1984. I did not know how I was supposed to succeed in this country without knowing the language. The ESL program gave me the foundation and the tools that I needed to continue my journey, not only teaching me the language properly in order to succeed in the academic world and get a degree, but also guiding me and teaching me to learn a new culture, the American culture.  Being enrolled in the ESL program is more than learning English; it is being a part of a big family where the nurturing faculty are like your aunts and uncles, and the students from all different countries become your brothers and sisters in the USA.  Although it has been 25 years since I completed that program, and all the instructors who taught me have retired, I still hold the program and its faculty close to my heart because the bonds that were built remain very strong."

Report from the Office of Institutional Research, Sept. 15, 2011


Delgado…Then and Now

 By: Tyler Scheuerman
The year was 1921. A loaf of bread cost six cents and a seven bedroom house $6,500. Warren Harding becomes the 29th President of the United States. Albert Einstein wins the Nobel Peace Prize. The first baseball game on the radio is broadcast. Walt Disney opens his first studio and introduces his first animated short. The Unknown Soldier is interred in Arlington National Cemetery, symbolically ending the Great War (later named World War I). Adolf Hitler assumes leadership of the Nazi Party in Germany. In New Orleans, the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School opened its doors.

We all know that time moves quickly, but it’s been 90 years since these events transpired. For Delgado, those 90 years have been years of growth, progress, and education for generations of New Orleanians.

Ninety years in the life of any institution is a milestone. For Delgado, it’s just another event on an already full timeline in the history of a college that has seen multiple missions, curriculums, population, economic, and physical changes.

Delgado opened its doors in 1921 as the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School on City Park Avenue. With the majority of the funding for the school coming from the estate of Isaac Delgado, the school became the first of its kind in the New Orleans area.

Then and Now Comparisons:

Enrollment: In 1921, the College opened with about 150 students. Today, Delgado maintains a climbing enrollment of 20, 452, making the College second in size only to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. When its doors opened in 1921, Delgado only accepted white males, age 14 or older. Today, the school’s population is a diverse one, drawing males and females, Caucasians, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, students recently graduated from high school and adults coming back to freshen up their skill sets.

Faculty: When it opened its doors, about 30 instructors were on hand to train and educate students. Today, the multi-campus college employs nearly 900 full and part-time instructors, who hold degrees across a wide expanse of subject matter, contributing to the wide variety of courses now offered from carpentry to computer design to anatomy and physiology.

First Faculty at Delgado

Campuses/Sites: Delgado opened and operated strictly from its City Park Avenue location for decades, most of that time from Isaac Delgado Hall (now also known as Building 1). Today, given Delgado’s large population and diverse metropolitan population, the College has eight satellite locations including the West Bank Campus, Charity School of Nursing, Slidell, Covington, Maritime Training Center, Jefferson and West Jefferson. The oldest campus, the City Park site, remains the largest and most populated.

Historical Shot of Building 1
Present Day Shot of Building 1

When the College opened, it was operated by the City of New Orleans. Today, it is a state institute, under the auspices of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Programs and Course Offerings: In the first days of Delgado’s existence, trades such as carpentry, welding, stewardship (culinary arts) and hospitality, paper hanging, and machine repair were listed in the catalog. Today, while the Technical Division still maintains technical trade course offerings to meet the needs of a changing world, Delgado’s academic workload had blossomed.

Now offering degrees and certificates in more than 70 courses of study, a Delgado student can enroll in classes offering math and science education, liberal arts, communication, nursing, foreign languages, culinary arts, criminal justice, computer programming, marketing, psychology, veterinarian technology, history and much more! Delgado is an SACS-accredited institution that offers associate (2-year) degrees and transfer degrees, working with other state institutions to ensure an easy transition into four-year programs. The College also offers many clubs and activities to students outside of the classroom, including athletics, intramural sports, student government, and many other clubs associated with specific programs to foster student life and the college experience.

Recent economic studies have reaffirmed that Delgado is a major contributor to the local workforce and economy of the area.

The past 90 years have been years of change, progress, and growth at Delgado. The College has continued its underlying mission of offering “education that works” to hundreds of thousands of students across southeast Louisiana while meeting the needs of a changing world. Delgado’s recent growth is a testament to its successes both in and out of the classroom as the College seeks to continue its mission for many years to come.


Delgado A-Z: D Is For Dolphin

 By: Tyler Scheuerman
Every college has its traditions and we all know that tradition runs deep at Delgado. One of our traditions is also one of our most frequently asked questions…why the dolphin?

For several decades, the turtle was the school’s unofficial mascot, used by clubs and other departments. The annual yearbook was even known as The Turtle.

In 1972, Delgado announced plans to begin fielding a college athletic program. When the time came to choose a mascot for the school’s athletic teams, Athletic Director “Rags” Scheuermann decided that the turtle was not exactly the ideal athletic image the school should look for in a mascot.

The Student Government Association agreed and sponsored a contest to help choose the new Delgado moniker. Suggestions up for consideration included ducks, dogs, and an obvious front-runner, the dolphins. At the time, the Miami Dolphins were at the top of the National Football League standings as an undefeated powerhouse who would go on to win Super Bowl VII at the end of the season.

When the results of a special student election were tabulated, the Delgado Dolphin was born. The mascot transition took place during the 1972-1973 academic year. The turtle was retired and buried in an official jazz funeral near the pond and the dolphin took its place as the college mascot.

The baseball team adopted the nickname (and the green and gold color scheme) and athletic teams have borne the moniker ever since, representing Delgado at a local and national level.

In addition to sports, the dolphin is also used in various ways throughout the college community. The student newspaper, The Dolphin, covers campus news and voices student opinion. The Dolphin card serves as the official college ID. Most recently, the launch of Dolphin Radio offers the campus and surrounding area a blend of all types of music, news updates, special programming and more.

Forty years later, the "Dolphins" are still representing Delgado both on and off of the playing field, in and out of the classroom.