UTEP recognized for efforts in promoting Latino student success

Published By
ABC 7 KVIA (El Paso)
Published On
June 26, 2019

Excelencia in Education, an organization based out of Washington D.C., picked UTEP as one of the first institutions to receive the Seal of Excelencia honor.

The inaugural seal acknowledges higher education institutions who are committed to serving Latino students.

"It's nice to be recognized for the hard work that's being done on college campuses, especially for a population that typically has been underserved in higher education," said Dr. Gary Edens, vice president for student affairs at UTEP.

Dr. Edens accepted the recognition on behalf of the university in Washington D.C., Thursday, June 20.

Excelencia in Education focuses on closing the national equity gap in degree attainment.

According to the organization, Latinos will need to earn 6.2 million more degrees by 2030 to close the gap.

Nine other institutions also received the Seal of Excelencia including El Paso Community College.

"I've seen that this campus is very dominant with latino students and I think it's a really good environment for me to be able to study," said UTEP freshman Braulio Sanchez.

"Latinos..we're not a minority here (at UTEP) so it feels comfortable…I don't think I would have succeeded as much if I went somewhere else," said UTEP graduate student Cesar Vasquez.

Dr. Edens told ABC-7 30 years ago, the student population was 50 percent anglo and 50 percent Hispanic.

"We now represent the El Paso region. We're 85 percent Hispanic at UTEP. That grow has been not only positive for our university but I think positive as a region as a whole.

Edens also credits UTEP's Collaborative for Academic Excellence. It was founded in 1992 and is comprised of leaders from UTEP, EPCC, Region 19 Education Service Center, regional school districts, and local civic and business organizations.

"We bring all of the key education leaders in the city together on a regular basis. We talk (about) data, we talk about what's going on in the pipelines, what's going on for out students in the classroom, so that we're all prepared to help those as they reach each respective institution," Dr. Edens said.

The Seal of Excelencia not only validates the success of UTEP's efforts, but their mission of access and excellence too.

"I think great things are happening in El Paso and the Seal of Excelencia is just another example of the quality education that students can get here in El Paso.