Amplifying Hispanic students at WSU

Weber State University’s Ogden campus surrounded by snow.

Weber State University has experienced a growth in Hispanic and Latino students over the past several years. WSU is working to become an emerging Hispanic Serving Institution with a strategized five-year plan.

Helping to make sure that this five-year plan called Amplified comes to fruition is Yudi Lewis, the executive director of Hispanic Serving Institutions Initiatives. Before coming to WSU, Lewis worked at Utah Valley University, leading an initiative to increase the number of Hispanic and Latino students’ access to higher education.

“The emerging Hispanic Serving Institution initiative exists to increase the number of Hispanic and Latino students who are not only enrolling at Weber State University but are also graduating,” Lewis said. “The goal of eHSI is to streamline services to best serve, in this case Hispanic and Latino students, but also utilize this as a model to serve all student populations at Weber State.”

Some of these services available to students include internship opportunities as well as scholarships. This initiative is designed to make the process of transitioning from high school to college and then into the workforce easier for all students.

In the state of Utah, Hispanic and Latino communities make up 15% of the population. In Ogden alone, Hispanic and Latino communities make up 30% of the population.

“When you look at Hispanic and Latino representation in higher education, it is only 11%, so what we are hoping to do at Weber State is mirror the state’s Hispanic and Latino demographic of 15% by 2025,” Lewis said. “This is about enabling students’ dreams of getting a college education.”

Lewis is assembling a taskforce to help spread awareness of this subject matter around WSU and hopes to have students, faculty and community members be a part of this task force. Lewis believes collaboration with programs on campus and off-campus will greatly benefit eHSI.

“We will need everybody’s help to come up with the ideal definition of how we serve Weber State students,” Lewis said.

This initiative goes further than just the college level; eHSI also reaches out to the K-12 system. This model provides students with information and programming that students might not be aware of. Other universities such as Salt Lake City Community College and The University of Utah use a similar model to benefit Hispanic and Latino students.

Lewis is excited to work on the eHSI initiative at WSU, saying the resources and opportunities WSU is working to provide today are things she didn’t have access to when she attended college.

“We want to make sure that every student understands that we need their stories, and we value what they bring to the table,” Lewis said. “Here at Weber State, we are making dreams a reality.”