September 15, 2023 | Carla Gonzalez and Yvonne Caro Caro
Elizabeth Gonzalez, Ph.D., Director of the UCLA Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), led the first HSI fellowship program on August 10-11, 2023. The focus of the program was to educate participants on what it means to be a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), the communities we need to serve, and how we can all contribute to the mission. During the two-day program, we reviewed data, discussed how to “change the narrative,” developed initiatives, and clarified the goal of HSI.
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (DGSOM) table included the following people: Nydia Flores, Co-Chair of the La Comunidad Affinity Group and Project Manager in Pediatrics; Melanie Bonilla, Program Manager for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI); Ana Esquivel, Manager for Radiology; Yvonne Caro Caro, Senior Standardized Patient Educator of the UCLA Simulation Center; and Carla Gonzalez, DAPM OAST & Project Manager.
Supporting the HSI program is an effort that we can all take part in—one that is necessary to make changes that reach beyond UCLA to the broader Hispanic/Latin community in California. The goals are to support UCLA initiatives to enroll at least 25% Hispanic students and 33% low-income students in the undergraduate and graduate programs. Upon reaching these goals, UCLA can be designated an HSI, which would provide more resources such as grants. Admittedly, it is challenging to process the disparities and current challenges that these students are experiencing, and it is comforting to know that our university is making changes to support these brilliant students. Even though the efforts are mainly focused on enrollment, we are also trying to find opportunities to amplify the Hispanic community at UCLA in staff, faculty, and leadership, as well as in collaborations with communities in Los Angeles.
During the program, we were thrilled to meet some of the UCLA members who are doing great work, like Celia Lacayo, Professor and Assistant Director of the Chicano Studies Research Center; Denise Pacheco, Senior Director of Alumni Affairs; the Academic Advancement Team; and co-inaugural fellows from all of UCLA. We also heard keynote talks from Antonio Flores, President of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), and Sylvia Hurtado, activist and Professor at the School of Education. The fellowship cohort completed this program with a newfound passion and eagerness to make a difference.