AnneMarie and Maria Cristina Ascarrunz, 20 and 18, speak English and Spanish fluently but have studied only in English. Daughters of an Ecuadorean mother and a Bolivian father, they are ready for college and want to be educated in both the cultures they know well.
They believe they have found one of the few institutions in the United States that can give them the bicultural education they seek.
Hood College -- a private, four-year institution founded in Frederick in 1893 -- has established what it describes as the first integral, all-college program for Hispanic students in the country. It hopes to attract students from all over the eastern part of the United States.
Hood, formerly of women's college that now has 1,100 undergraduates of both sexes, set up the program last September with a three-year federal grant.
Hood wants "to produce completely bilingual, bicultural, well-educated women," said the program's director, Cuban-born Dr. Edenia Guillermo. "Women who are at home in both of these languages and cultures and can therefore make a better contribution to any field of specialization.
"For those of us who have come to this country from elsewhere, and have been received with such generosity, we feel we have a debt to pay. And this is one way we try to do it."
Guillermo, who came to the United States in 1961 and became a citizen in 1969, said "the terrible underrepresentation" of Hispanos -- especially Hispanic women -- in higher education in the United States led Hood to establish the program. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 1976, only 3.7 percent of the students enrolled in private, four-year U.S. colleges were Hispanos.
"And if you think those statistics are bad, let me tell you how they break down for Hispanic women," said Guillermo, who in 1939 received a summa cum laude doctorate in education from the University of Havana and in 1949 a second doctorate in letters from the same institution. "Most of the Hispanics who actually finish high school here and go on to college -- and there are few enough of those! -- are men. If you have a hundred Hispanics enrolling in four-year colleges, you can bet that about 90 of them are men and only about 10 are women."
Hood, which has 350 commuters among its undergraduates, hopes to recruit at least 20 Hispanic women for the September 1981-June 1982 academic year, which will be the program's second year of operation but its first formal year of teaching.
"We actually did not plan to have students enrolled in the program this (1980-1981 academic) year," said Dr. Juana A. Hernandez, the Cuban-born chairwoman of Hood's department of foreign languages and literature. But the Ascarrunz sisters, Viviana Galiano, 18, and Nancy Tejada Jones, 24, all Frederick residents, and Maria del Toro Sabater of Puerto Rico, whose mother is a Hood alumna, heard about Hood's plans and came to the college.
"It has been so helpful to have them here this year to try out things and see what works and what doesn't," said Hernandez.
Hispanic women who participate in the program may choose any of the 32 majors Hood now offers. They will take additional, complementary courses in remedial Spanish or English grammer and spelling -- on an as-needed basis -- as well as Spanish and Latin American history and literature.
"Most of these (Hispanic) women (in the United States) are completely bilingual -- some of them don't even speak English too well -- but have received no education in Spanish at all," said Hernandez, who also holds a doctorate in philosophy and letters from the University of Havana. "Their spelling is terrible, their grammar is worse and they don't know a thing about Spanish-language literature.
"We're going to see that they get all the classics, all the things like 'Don Quixote' or Lope de Vega that any well-educated native speaker of Spanish should have read, and then we'll create some highly individual courses, such as one we'll call Caribbean Culture that will concentrate on the history, literature and folklore of Caribbean countries -- Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico -- the places we think more of our students will have ties with."
The five young women enrolled in the program seem extraordinarily pleased and happy with their studies.
Galiano, who was born in Puerto Rico and came to live in Miami when she was 15, speaks English and Spanish fluently and has received formal education in both languages. She wants to stay in the United States and hopes tobecome a high school teacher of Spanish and French. She says she loves her course work, and punctuates almost every statement with smiles and laughter.
Jones came to the United States with her American husband Tom 18 months ago from Cali, Colombia, where she was born. She speaks English fluently but needs remedial work in grammar, spelling and literature to become truly bilingual. She says she is delighted with her courses at Hood, and dismisses with a smile the notion that she might miss the biochemistry courses she left behind in Colombia.
With an eye to spreading the word about Hood's plans for the 1981-82 academic year, bilingual admissions counselor Liz Reisberg already has begun traveling to areas heavily populated by Hispanos in Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Hispanic women high school students from New York City recently became the first such group to visit the campus. Reisberg hopes eventually to expand Hood's recruitment as far afield as Miami.
"The enthusiasm has been overwhelming," said Reisberg, who was specially recruited by Hood for the Hispanic program. "We've had 20 applications already, including seven from the group of New York (high school) girls who just visited us."
"One (high school) counselor that I have talked to said, when I described this program to her, 'This is really the answer to our prayers,'" said Guillermo. "With this program we seek not to isolate the Hispanic students but to integrate them more successfully into academic life and into the community at large."
"Hood is committed to going on with this program whether or not we get more funding from the government," added Hernandez. "And we're already looking for more money for it."