New Jersey Institute of Technology has launched a Hispanic and Latinx Leadership Council (HLLC) to propel its mission of enrolling more Hispanic and Latinx students and achieve its goal of becoming a Hispanic-serving institution.
The 11-person council — which features leaders in business and community advocacy, including seven alumni — will advise, counsel and support NJIT’s drive to increase its percentage of Hispanic and Latinx undergraduates from 20% to 25% by 2025 and thereby qualify to earn the federal designation of being Hispanic-serving. In addition, the HLLC will seek to deepen relationships with Hispanic and Latinx alumni, businesses and organizations.
Council members will further serve as ambassadors and advocates for NJIT, mentor STEM-oriented Hispanic and Latinx students in high schools and community colleges as an introduction to the university and help secure gifts and grants to aid enrollment and engagement efforts.
“Given the socially and economically transformative impact of pursuing and completing a STEM-focused college degree, enrolling more Hispanic and Latinx students at NJIT will help our state and nation address long-standing social and economic inequalities,” said Joel S. Bloom, president of NJIT. “A failure to do so will portend higher Hispanic and Latinx unemployment rates, lower income and buying power, and a missed opportunity to benefit from the talent and potential of this significant segment of our society.”
One alum on the Council, Eliza Charters, sees the HLLC as a means to create mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, in particular. She joined because of her personal connection to NJIT, where she became the first person in her family to attend college, with support from the university’s Educational Opportunity Program.
“The council is a testament to the leadership of President Bloom, Provost [Fadi] Deek and the Board of Trustees. Together, we are taking actionable steps toward inclusion,” said Charters, a principal at EAC Business International and president of Latina Surge International who also serves on the Board of Advisors for NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management. “NJIT is further developing its diversity, equity and inclusion competitive advantage by actively implementing this new council and its goals toward social justice, inclusion and belonging.”
Like Charters, Council member Robert Medina is an alum who’s passionate about his alma mater and already gives back, as a member of the Board of Overseers. He’s confident that NJIT will realize its 25% representation goal, which will make it a Hispanic-serving school eligible for additional federal and state aid for students. So, the challenge, as Medina sees it, is, “How can we be proactive and develop a program that not only gets over that goal but also is a planned program?”
What’s more, Medina, the principal of Medina 43 Business Strategies and a first-generation college student himself, would like to add a student to the council — an idea that Charters supports.
The HLLC arrives amid several NJIT initiatives designed to heighten diversity and the visibility of historically underserved minorities on campus. The university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force is leading a groundbreaking and comprehensive survey of the campus community to develop a long-term diversity and inclusion action plan. At the same time, NJIT’s Hillier College of Architecture and Design is moving to revive its chapter in the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students. The university already has active chapters of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers as well as Latin American Student Organization.
The initiatives and council represent concrete steps toward realizing a guiding principle of NJIT’s 2025 strategic plan, namely, to achieve diversity across all of the university’s five priorities: students, faculty, research, resources and prominence. As the plan states, “We will create a welcoming and inclusive campus environment by developing a diverse community of students, faculty, staff and administrators; ensuring an affordable education; nurturing connections with alumni; actively engaging with the Newark community; and connecting with national and international business communities.” The HLLC aims to do all that, and more.
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