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Local university aims to become Hispanic serving institution

Posted at 10:51 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 22:51:35-05

ESTERO, Fla. - Florida Gulf Coast University leaders said they want to be able to better reach Southwest Florida's Hispanic population.

The official term is a Hispanic serving institution. Leaders said it practically means the feds will provide more funding to the university to better serving the Hispanic population.

“I am hoping that this is going to open opportunities for Hispanic and Latino students to enroll," marketing production manager at FGCU, Janeth Castrejon said.

Originally from Panama, Castrejon said she's hopeful by university leaders committing to more resources. She said it benefited her as a student and more Hispanic students will soon call the university home.

“I tried it out for the first time wondering if I was going to fit in with the population. What I found is within the first semester, I was embraced and it did not matter what my background or even my age was," Castrejon said.

To help more students like Castrejon feel supported, FGCU leaders said they want to be federally classifed as a Hispanic serving institution. That would mean more federal dollars for more programs. But to do that, the feds require 25 percent of students be Hispanic. Right now, it’s at 24 percent.

“Achieving an HSI status allows us to become eligible for a lot of funding. That then can support our students, our faculty and support our staff so it’s really important to have ability to have access to additional funding that is specifically designated for Hispanic serving institutions," vice-president of student success and management, Mitch Cordova said.

Cordova said FGCU is committed to strengthening student enrollments in STEM fields and to bring in more Hispanic staff and faculty. That is something Castrejon feels has the potential to improve the services they are currently offering to Hispanic students.

“I think this is just an additional step of our commitment and passion for all of our community, including the Latino and Hispanic community," Castrejon said.