The UCF Office of Diversity and Inclusion looked to new ideas to provide more resources for Latinx students at UCF.
Cyndia Muñiz, director of HSI Culture and Partnerships, said the Vamos Knights Fund is a $25 for 25% initiative.
"People can donate $25 or any amount they desire in honor of the 25% enrollment threshold needed for universities to be federally recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution," Muñiz said.
Established on Sept. 10 and just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month, the purpose of the HSI initiative is to support Latinx students succeed in their college career by funding scholarships and helping students find paid internships, Muñiz said.
"Many Latinx students can’t take unpaid internships because many are active contributors to their households,” Muñiz said. “We are looking for a way to support internship opportunities, as well as scholarships for our undergraduate students, and then fellowships for our graduate level.”
UCF became a Hispanic Serving Institution through the U.S. Department of Education in 2019, according to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. In order to become an HSI-certified institution, a university must have at least a 25% enrollment of Hispanic students in its undergraduate student body, according to the U.S. Department of Education's website.
UCF has had a 9% enrollment increase in Hispanic undergraduate students since fall 2018, according to UCF Institutional Knowledge Management.
Senior information technology major Oscar Ronderos said many Latinx students, himself included, will feel more confident knowing they have enough resources to succeed.
“I love to see that UCF is taking initiative on the Hispanic community,” Ronderos said. “It is nice to hear that I am being represented, I am being identified and (I am) being considered toward programs — and that to me is what matters the most.”
While some students are taking advantage of these resources, others are not familiar with them. Sophomore architecture major Vanessa Daboin said many Latinx students are unaware of how many resources are available to them.
“This is a great way for students like me to take advantage of the opportunities that are accessible to us,” Daboin said.
Along with helping Latinx students, Muñiz said she wants to find resources, such as webinars and seed grants, for faculty and staff to learn how to better support Hispanic students at the university. Throughout her decade at UCF, Muñiz said she has witnessed many organizations created and established for Latinx students and staff, such as Puerto Rico Research Hub, Knightly Latino and the Latino Faculty and Staff Association, among many others.
“I started my journey here as a doctoral student and then became a full-time employee, so I have personally seen how we are doing more and more to support our Latinx students,” Muñiz said.
Ronderos said he feels grateful to feel included and supported by a university that cares about its Latinx community.
“I am very proud to hear that I am going to a university where I am being considered and where they want me to move forward with my studies and my career,” Ronderos said.
Anyone interested in supporting the UCF Latinx community can do so by donating here.