UC Santa Cruz Hispanic-Serving Institution Initiatives Launches New Programs to Advance Education Equity


National Hispanic Institutions Awareness Week

National HSI Week is dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the work and important role HSIs play in improving access to education, promoting equity practices and contributions in their communities. . Visit the HSI Initiatives website or follow the team on Instagram @ ucsc.hsi to learn more about this week’s programming, including webinars with grant updates for GANAS Career and GANAS Graduate, and a webinar especially for graduate students with our new graduate services advisor Angel Domiguez.

Committed to creating educational equity that will help drive real and transformative change, UC Santa Cruz will launch a range of new programs to support the success of Latinx, low-income, first-generation and under-represented students and prepare them for a rewarding career once they graduate.

“HSI initiatives focus on goals to strengthen the student experience and transform our policies and practices to include and focus students who have been and are in the minority in higher education,” said Charis Herzon, Director of HSI Initiatives. “We seek to achieve overall student success, deliver equitable educational interventions and student-centered practices, and create institutional structures, changes and investments as a public research university to serve as a leader for the University of California and the nation. ”

UC Santa Cruz leaders are focused on creating lasting change on campus that will serve current and future students. Top campus leaders continued to work closely with the Student Affairs and Success Division and its Hispanic Institutional Initiatives team.

Working with many faculty and staff on campus, the Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives team will launch and pursue a range of programs and services to support undergraduate and graduate students in their academic success.

The UC Santa Cruz HSI team is focused on creating educational equity for undergraduate and graduate students and addressing disparities created by different families, economic backgrounds, and educational experiences. Faculty and campus staff strive to understand and design programs that take into account and correct these disparities.

Herzon said much of the past year has been spent planning new programs to be ready for this academic year.

“Our wide-ranging collaborations and partnerships, both on campus and beyond, have been critical to the creativity involved in creating our grant activities and their successful implementation,” said Sara Sanchez, Director of GANAS graduate program. “We create, plan and execute in partnership and supporting each other, improving the quality and reach of our initiatives – ultimately for the benefit of student success, including graduate student success with GANAS Graduate . “

Advancing equity in undergraduate education

Four new programs are supported by the five-year $ 3 million Career Paths Grant for U.S. New Graduates (GANAS), awarded by the U.S. Department of Education last year.

The campus will offer a redesigned calculus course, provide additional instruction to support student learning, establish a new career internship program, and work with two departments to identify and address racial disparities.

UC Santa Cruz has focused on redesigning core math courses which have been barriers to student success, especially as part of the biology major. The campus is moving away from major conferences and instead focusing on active learning and problem-solving sessions to support inclusion and equity. The HSI team has already redesigned Math 2, Math 3 and Math 11 A, and will be focusing their attention on Math 11B in the summer of 2022.

Comprehensive reviews are intended to increase course grades and pass rates and reduce the gap in completion. In Math 2, before the redesign, pass rates hovered between 70% and 75% with gaps between Latinx (60% pass rate) and White students (90% pass rate) at over 30%. In Math 2, the pass rate is 85 to 90% and the gaps have been halved. In Math 3, we found that students in the reshuffled math course who received the same grade as their matched peers in the unshifted math class received higher scores in downstream STEM courses.

Learning Support Services will provide additional instruction in courses where there are high rates of students with D’s, F’s, or at risk of failing or dropping out. Highly trained student leaders will deliver breakout sessions to help their peers learn essential course material.

A new career internship program focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will invite students to apply later this fall. Students will be enrolled in a career course while doing an internship at nonprofit organizations and businesses with the aim of helping prepare the cohort to begin rewarding careers upon graduation.

Additionally, a team of expert faculty and staff will partner with the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology to undertake a self-study aimed at uncovering and filling the equity gaps. .

Programs to support students to and through graduate studies

Young woman in class in front of a whiteboard, other students at the tables
Students at work at UC Santa Cruz.
Credit: UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz also received a $ 3 million grant from the US Department of Education last fall to support graduate students.

The GANAS Graduate Pathways Grant helps unlock UC Santa Cruz’s potential to become a premier research institute serving Hispanics by advancing educational equity among graduate students. UC Santa Cruz is one of a few dozen institutions of higher education that also have “very high levels of research,” as measured by the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education Institutions.

A new course, supported by the grant, will help undergraduates apply and prepare for graduate studies. The project aims to help expand the pool of undergraduate students who decide to pursue graduate studies and ensure they have the tools they need to be successful.

The campus will also offer an arts training course for undergraduate and graduate students focused on successful careers in the creative economy.

A new graduate service advisor, Angel Dominguez, will provide holistic counseling with expertise in supporting first generation, historically low income and BIPOC students.

The Latinx Initiative for Future Teachers (LIFT) on campus will provide Latinx academics interested in teaching a streamlined path to the Masters in Education and Teaching (MA / C) program, as well as mentoring and financial support during that they are in the program.

UC Santa Cruz also established the VOCES Graduate Student Writing Center, which provides Latinx, low-income, first-generation, and graduate students of color with an array of writing strategies designed to address conceptual thinking, reading / literacy and multiple forms of writing. throughout graduate studies.

The HSI team plans to launch several other efforts in the summer of 2022, including a research opportunities program for students at UC Santa Cruz and CSU Monterey Bay; a first-year experience course for incoming graduate students studying literature to expose them to different types of research; and a summer bridging program to support incoming graduate students.

Create lasting change

Herzon said the HSI Grants help create transformational change at UC Santa Cruz both by creating positive changes in the college landscape and by establishing new programs that can continue beyond the duration of a year. grant.

This includes maintaining positions such as the program coordinator of the Chicanx / Latinx Resource Center, originally funded by the MAPA grant. This grant ended in September 2020, with the campus now funding this position. The construction of transfer routes with programs such as cross-enrollment is also expected to continue this year under the leadership of a director of Cultivamos Excelencia who will soon be hired.

With students returning to face-to-face teaching, the Science Library STEM hub will be where students can find learning sessions, counseling services and EOP learning support.

The SEMILLA campus grant, a $ 5.7 million grant awarded in the fall of 2016, ends this year. This grant has helped Latinx students earn STEM degrees and instructors remove barriers to success inside and outside the classroom. The grant funded programs in math, writing, career development, and more.

The campus will continue to run its SEMILLA scholarship program – supporting first year students who plan to specialize in a STEM field by providing additional guidance, helping them become familiar with their major and fostering a sense of ‘membership.

“Overall we have had success and we still have a lot of work to do,” said Herzon. “We have been successful in developing racial and equity-minded faculty and staff. These practitioners regularly review disaggregated data and seek to understand the experience of our students at UC Santa Cruz with curiosity, vulnerability, intention and ability to act.

“We are pleased to report that our change in practice and policy benefits Latinx students and in our analysis we found that they benefit all students. We look forward to implementing the new programs and partnering with our students and their journey as we begin this new academic year. “


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