Wichita State celebrates Latinx community
Dr. Rick Muma, president
One statistic that was particularly encouraging was that we had a 24.9% growth in first-time-in-college Hispanic students. In total, these new students bring our total Hispanic population to just under 15% — well on our way to reaching our goal to become a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the end of this decade.
To become an HSI, an institution needs to have “an enrollment of undergraduate full-time equivalent students that is at least 25% Hispanic students.”
You might ask why such a specific demographic is so important to the future of Shocker Nation and why we’re aiming for an HSI designation. There are a few answers to this:
- First, the Hispanic population in Wichita and Sedgwick County is growing, and in the last U.S. Census this demographic grew 28% from 2010 to 2020.
- Our priority of making a Wichita State education accessible and affordable to Kansas families plays an important role in our recruitment and outreach to new populations of students, and many of those students identify closely with their Latinx heritage.
- Additionally, an HSI designation has the potential of bringing in additional federal funding to support Latinx students in the form of scholarships and student support services to assure they graduate.
- Recruiting students of color and from diverse backgrounds into our student body benefits everyone in Shocker Nation, including those that hire our graduates. As the most diverse university in the state, our diversity is our strength, and the Latinx community is an integral part of that strength.
For Wichita State, we see it as an imperative that we work diligently to ensure that people from diverse communities not only find a home on our campus but find the space to thrive and achieve their goals and become the leaders and professionals of tomorrow.
So, what are we doing to attract and retain Latinx students to Wichita State?
- We’re focused on raising need-based aid to remove financial obstacles for students.
- We also know Hispanic students have a higher likelihood of be first-generation students which means they might have more need on how to apply for and receive financial aid, choosing classes, or navigating the nuances of campus life. For this reason, we have a Constellation of Support for our first-gen students.
- We match scholarships from the Kansas Hispanic Education and Development Fund (KHEDF) based here in Wichita — meaning that KHEDF provides scholarships to students, and we match for students attending Wichita State.
- Through the generosity of our Shocker community, several multicultural scholarships have been established specifically for underrepresented minorities, including the Adelante Scholarship, which offers 20 renewable, high-impact scholarships to students who are of Black and/or Hispanic/Latinx heritage.
- Yolanda and Gene Camarena, who established the Adelante Scholarship mentioned above, also included additional funding in their gift to support new staff in the Office of Admissions and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. These staff members work to translate recruitment materials into Spanish, presenting information to families about WSU, and event programming geared toward bilingual families.
- For all students demonstrating need, the Shocker Promise provides last-dollar funding (which means funding after other forms of aid are first included toward a student’s scholarship package) to all 2021-2022 high school graduates from Sedgwick County.
Nothing pleases me more than welcoming new Shockers into our family, and I’m excited about our journey to bring more diversity onto our campus for the benefit of all of Shocker Nation.
President of Wichita State University