Celebrating Our Diversity
Alverno is proud to be the first college or university in Wisconsin to be named a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Based upon our student enrollment, this national designation recognizes and honors the College’s longheld values of diversity and inclusivity. It also opens new doors to grant and scholarship funding to benefit all students.
Alverno is now one of 286 HSI-designated schools nationwide, just 13 of which are in the Midwest (as of April 2018). To earn the HSI designation, a college’s total undergraduate fulltime equivalent enrollment must be 25 percent Hispanic. In fall 2017, Alverno’s Hispanic student enrollment was 27 percent.
The honor is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to serve all students. It recognizes that we are home to a diverse learning community that reflects the real world. We are thrilled with the opportunity to open new doors for all of our students as a result of this honor. To explain more about what the HSI designation means and to share our next steps, we turned to Ruth Lopez ’17, coordinator of Latino student engagement and outreach.
What does the HSI designation mean for Alverno and its students?
The HSI designation reiterates Alverno’s commitment to remaining a community focused on inclusion and diversity. It also gives us the opportunity to apply for private and federal grants that can be used to help strengthen existing programs and initiatives. These programs were designed to help all students on campus, regardless of their race or ethnicity, and we’ll keep that focus.
What does the designation mean for students who aren’t Hispanic?
All students will be encouraged to participate in any new initiatives that potential funding creates. The grants available to institutions with the HSI designation are intended to help develop programs and initiatives that everyone can participate in and benefit from. And students of all races and ethnicities are eligible to apply for scholarships available to students at HSI schools.
How did Alverno achieve HSI status?
Organically! By delivering a consistent message to the community that we are committed to providing a nurturing and enriching undergraduate experience, our population of students from diverse backgrounds has grown. Connecting our dedicated faculty to prospective students has helped students appreciate all that Alverno has to offer. Our mission has been, and will remain, in the service of helping all women realize their fullest potential.
Can you describe your role as the coordinator of Latino student engagement and outreach? What are your top priorities?
My position is a newly created position intended on ensuring that we are doing our best to sincerely serve the Hispanic population. I’m currently reviewing what faculty, staff and students are already doing to serve campus. Then, we’ll organize our resources, make sure the campus is aware of what the designation means and prioritize constant growth and improvement.
As a recent alumna, how did Alverno’s student diversity enrich your campus experience?
I would have never come here if I didn’t feel at home. Alverno made me feel that I could be who I was and not feel out of place. My classmates and I all had our own stories, backgrounds, cultures and beliefs, but we were all here for the same goal. It helped us all be more open-minded and accepting. It also helped fuel our desire to learn, not only about each other’s differences but more so about our similarities.
Now that we have HSI status, what comes next?
Our immediate next step is to reiterate that we remain focused on providing a distinguished college experience to all of our students. We also plan to continue sharing the good news of this honor! Additionally, we need to continue to be receptive of the feedback and constructive criticism we receive so that students feel empowered to voice their opinions and concerns. Hearing these concerns and working towards implementing changes on campus is what we’ll continue to do.
This article originally appeared in the spring 2018 issue of Alverno Magazine.