June 20, 2019

University is one of nine institutions to earn Seal of Excelencia from DC organization

Young Latinos are one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations according to the Pew Research Center, and many Latino youth will be the first in their family to go to college.

ASU has committed to serving its communities and those individuals who wish to pursue a college degree regardless of their background or socioeconomic status and to provide the support resources required for all students to succeed.

For those efforts, ASU was one of nine institutions to earn the 2019 Seal of Excelencia, a prestigious, voluntary, and comprehensive certification granted by the Washington, D.C.-based organization, Excelencia in Education.

“ASU is committed to increasing educational access and degree attainment among LatinxsLatinx is a gender-neutral term sometimes used in lieu of Latino or Latina when referring to Latin American cultural or racial identity., our future new majority population, and our institutional mission will only be complete if the students we serve reflect our surrounding diversity,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “Through ASU’s commitment to quality, inclusion and student success, one quarter of our first-year class are Latinx students and thousands of degrees are being earned by Latinx graduates, all of whom meaningfully enrich our ASU community through their personal drives, valuable perspectives, experiential insights and their dedication to giving back to the community, both now and in the future.”

Video by ASU Now

The seal recognizes an institution’s very high level of commitment and effort to serve Latino students successfully.

“Having a higher education is vital to succeed in today’s global economy,” said Deborah Santiago, CEO of Excelencia in Education. “If institutions aren’t effectively serving our Latino students, we lose a vital source of talent for our workforce and civic leadership. Institutions that strive for and most particularly those that earn the seal have demonstrated their capacity to grow our country’s highly skilled workforce and develop leaders — in other words, these institutions are ensuring America’s future.”

At an event in Washington, D.C., Santiago emphasized that the seal is not a ranking; it’s the credentialing of an institution that has strategically placed support programs to help Latino students succeed and where Latino students can thrive.

During the event, Stanlie James, ASU vice provost for inclusion and community engagement, accepted the recognition on behalf of ASU. Reminiscing on the spring 2019 Hispanic Convocation, she shared a moving moment she experienced at the event when first-generation students were asked to stand.

“Ninety percent of those students stood up, and I thought, 'This is what we’re here for,'” James said.

Video by ASU Now

ASU, recognizing the importance of a diverse student community and the impact it has on shaping ideas, advancing research and preparing students to engage with people unlike themselves, has become a majority-minority-serving institution.

In the last 12 years, Latino student enrollment at ASU has doubled, serving approximately 15,700 Latino students in fall 2018.

“The Seal of Exelencia that we’ve received is a great honor,” ASU Provost Mark Searle said. “It provides external validation for Arizona State University for the efforts we’ve made to build a truly inclusive institution. Our goals have been extensive to make sure that ASU is seen as a university for all students irrespective of their background, irrespective of where they came from, their socioeconomic status.”

Understanding the specific needs of the Latino community, how to best serve them and set them up to succeed is where ASU has thrived.

Access ASU is transforming Arizona's college-going culture through strategic programs and initiatives — supporting students, families and schools from underserved communities to have access to the tools, knowledge and experience needed to pursue and attain a university degree.

“At ASU we have found great success in working with families as early as kindergarten and continuing through 12th grade to start the conversation about preparing for college early,” said Sylvia Symonds, associate vice president of ASU’s Educational Outreach and Student Services. “We have created a number of culturally relevant programs and initiatives that seek to provide guidance and support for students and families to realize their goal of higher education.”

The Hispanic Mother Daughter Program at ASU was founded in 1984 to address the shortage of women and women of color in higher education. The early-outreach middle and high school program aims to connect students with ASU mentors and resources. Originally designed to serve Hispanic mothers and their daughters, today the program seeks to accept all students who identify as being a future first-generation college student with an aspiration to attend ASU.

In addition, the American Dream Academy places the focus on the family as a whole. In the eight-week program, families learn how to best support their children and are given the tools and resources necessary to provide that support and ensure a college-going mentality. To date, American Dream Academy has served 40,000 families and students.

Once on campus, the First-Year Success Center provides peer coaching services to first-year students, sophomores and new transfer students. Under Latinx leadership, First-Year Success coaches mentor students, help students adjust to college life and connect them to resources.

“We have a large and growing Latino population here in the state of Arizona as does the United States, and we also have a wonderful charter that says we will be known by whom we include not by whom we exclude,” James said. “We are delighted to be able to serve our Latino population so that they are in turn prepared to go and be of service to their community.”

Top photo: Sonia Beltran holds up a pitchfork to her friends and family during the 2019 Hispanic Convocation at Wells Fargo Arena. Photo by ASU