MSU Denver recognized for its service to Hispanic students

DENVER (KDVR) — Metropolitan State University in Denver is marking its recognition as one of the top Hispanic-serving institutions in the country.

Recently the university was designated with a seal that it said no other school in Colorado can boast.

In the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, MSU has been awarded the Seal of Excelencia by “Excelenicia in Education,” an organization that focuses on Hispanics and higher education.

“We were one of nine this year, so a total of 39 institutions,” Manuel Del Real said.

Del Real is an executive director at MSU and he said it is not an award that is bestowed to many schools.

The Seal of Excelencia marked the school’s work to serve Hispanic students.

“That they’re successful,” Del Real said, “that they find their careers.”

Del Real’s job is to ensure the school is properly serving the needs of its Hispanic students, of which 64% graduate with a degree from the university.

“That’s first-generation experience, it’s not being able to go home and say, hey, I have these goals and these interests. What do I do with them,” Julianna Montoya said.

Montoya is a student of public health and the first in her family to go to college, a challenge in and of itself for this Hispanic student.

“My parents don’t know how to apply for scholarships,” Montoya said. “They don’t know what prerequisites even are or, you know, having to go from one class to another.”

The designation as a top Hispanic-serving school is years in the making.

Back in 2007, MSU had 13% Hispanic students, which climbed in 2019 to 23%, now the number stands at 36%.

The school’s role in serving its Hispanic students has generated $14 million in funds, which Del Real said helps serve all of the school’s students.

“If students had a teaching assistant in their courses or they had a learning assistant,” Del Real said, “they benefitted from these minority-serving institutions and Hispanic serving institution funds that we received.”

The experience at MSU is one that Montoya said gave her opportunities she would never have known otherwise.

“I didn’t know about the doors because frankly, my parents didn’t know about the doors, and nobody knew who to ask about whether or not those existed,” Montoya said.

In addition to its service to Hispanic students, MSU boasts enrolling the highest number of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, students in Colorado. Those undocumented students were brought to the country at a very young age.

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