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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

University receives distinguished certification for success as Hispanic Serving Institute

St.+Edwards+students+in+Hunt+Hall+cheer+as+they+witness+President+Fuentes+on+the+livestream+receive+the+Seal+from+Washington+D.C.
Kennady Basdekis-Morin / Hilltop Views
St. Edward’s students in Hunt Hall cheer as they witness President Fuentes on the livestream receive the Seal from Washington D.C.

St. Edward’s University receives the prestigious Seal of Excelencia today, a national certification granted to Latino-serving institutions. Students, faculty and staff gather in Hunt Hall to witness a livestream of President Fuentes accepting the certification in Washington D.C.

“Earning the Seal of Excelencia is a reaffirmation of the accountability St. Edward’s has to inspire our Hispanic and Latino students to pursue their academic goals and achieve them,” St. Edward’s University President Montserrat Fuentes said in a recent news release. “The Seal is a testament of our dedication to our students’ success, because they are our future.”

The Seal of Excelencia comes from Excelencia in Education, an organization dedicated to improving the success of Latino students in higher education. 30 colleges and universities have received the honor of being recognized with the certification, including Austin Community College and the University of Texas at Austin, but St. Edward’s is the only Catholic institution to receive this certification.

“I have seen so much growth within the different types of resources and the commitment to serving our Latino students,” Student Government Association President Ethan Tobias said. “I am so happy to not only see St. Edward’s receive the seal, but I think it’s a reinforcement. It’s a testament to our growth. I’m excited to see how this elevates St. Edward’s.”

The Seal is a testament of our dedication to our students’ success, because they are our future.

— President Fuentes

The framework for the Seal of Excelencia consists of three main components: data, practice and leadership. Institutes must show momentum in several data areas, including Latino enrollment, retention, representation, degree completion and financial support. In Fall 2022, 51% of undergraduate students enrolled at St. Edward’s were Latino. 

St. Edward’s has been a Hispanic Serving Institution for over 30 years, and one way Latino students are continuously supported is through the university’s College Assistance Migrant Program. 

“I’m very, very grateful and blessed to be a CAMP scholar and to know the CAMP staff,” Michelle Ramirez, co-president of the Latinx Student Leadership Organization, said. “That’s how I was able to be the first person in my family to go to college. It’s provided me a lot of different opportunities. They’re just like a family here on campus.”

For the leadership component within the seal’s framework, institutes must display an impact of leadership such as recruitment and professional development for faculty focusing on serving Latino students. St. Edward’s works to pair Latino students with mentors, tutors and success coaches to ensure success upon graduation.

For Ramirez, two individuals at the university that have stuck out to her while attending college have been Erica Zamora and Lionel Lopez, director and assistant director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion respectively.

“They’ve been mentoring me, basically, since I was a sophomore,” Ramirez said. “I know I can go to them whenever I have a problem with something. I’ve been very grateful to them for that.”

Ramirez emphasized that another aspect of community for Latino students on campus stems from the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, where she was able to initially connect with Lopez and Zamora.

“I hope that in the future, there’s still more of a push to recognize the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion,” Ramirez said. “I feel like they really have built a lot of community not just for Latinos, but for other communities here on campus. I think that St. Edward’s has done a pretty good job at making Latino students feel celebrated and seen.”

 

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Claire Lawrence, Editor-in-Chief
Claire is a senior Communication major with a minor in Journalism continuing to dedicate her time growing and learning as a student journalist. Claire has been with Hilltop Views for three years. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief. Previously, she served as a Staff Writer and as News Editor. Outside of St. Edward's, Claire plays bass in Austin-local band "Losers." Though she is graduating soon, she hopes to leave her mark in the newsroom and inspire other students to get involved with their campus paper.

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