Leading the U.S. in Hispanic Student Initiatives

Founded in 2018, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s University Partnerships initiative works to build a robust college-to-career pipeline between Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) and corporations. Together, HSIs, the private sector and the Foundation work to enhance career readiness for students, all while building an employable talent pool.

When initiative organizers were looking for the foundation’s first chair, they looked to a long-time leader in Hispanic higher education at one of DFW’s HSIs: the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). Michele Bobadilla, assistant provost for Hispanic student success and senior associate vice president for outreach services and community engagement at UTA, has proven to be more than up for the challenge.

“The initial focus of University Partnerships will be to identify strong regional matches between universities, community colleges and businesses working with Hispanic chambers of commerce across the state and begin to network the entities and leverage shared resources,” Bobadilla says in an article on UTA’s news website. “There are multiple reasons why UTA is the right institution to spearhead this effort.”

UTA serves more Hispanic students than any other four-year public university in DFW and is one of only 10 universities in the nation to achieve the designation of both HSI and R-1: Highest Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Bobadilla says she has already begun working with industry leaders to cultivate paid internships and experiential learning opportunities. “Internships are critical for career success and must be paid in order for students, many of whom are first generation and working their way through college, to be able to afford the opportunity,” she says.

Nina Vaca, chair of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation, adds, “I am so proud that the USHCC Foundation has embarked on this legacy initiative with two such distinguished partners. With Texas as our launching point, our goal is to expand the University Partnerships initiative nationwide and to include as many university and corporate partnerships as possible. Our ultimate vision is to permanently impact the career trajectories of the next generation of Hispanic entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.”

The DFW Region is home to four Hispanic- or minority-serving institutions: the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of North Texas at Dallas, Texas Woman’s University and Texas A&M University – Commerce.

This article is part of the 2020 Higher Education Review Magazine.