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Hispanic Outlook honors SMC

Katie Kohler | Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saint Mary’s recently joined the ranks of only eight Indiana colleges and universities to be recognized by Hispanic Outlook magazine for providing the best educational opportunities for Hispanics. The publication honored schools from each state by placing them on the 2006 Publisher’s Pick List. Notre Dame was also included.

For Saint Mary’s to be included in a list like this is an honor, said Melanie McDonald, director of media relations at the College.

“Schools are selected based on interviews with students of the institution,” she said. “The Saint Mary’s students surveyed obviously felt supported and felt that a network of programs and people are in place at the College to make a Latina student’s experience at Saint Mary’s a positive one.”

With the aid of the National Center for Education Statistics, Hispanic Outlook compiles the list each year using student surveys as well as an important calculation: the number of degrees granted in proportion to the Hispanic population at the institution. The list represents the magazine’s “latest and best thinking about which colleges and universities offer Hispanic students a solid chance of academic success,” publisher José López-Isa said on the magazine’s Web site.

The Admissions Department at Saint Mary’s has been working diligently to increase diversity on campus. This fall, the Office for Enrollment Management presented the most diverse class in 15 years, according to McDonald.

“Prospective Latina students, who make up a portion of that underrepresented [minority] group, are learning that Saint Mary’s offers support to Hispanic students in many forms,” McDonald said.

Latina students have various campus organizations and offices that cater to their continued success, such as the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Center for Women’s InterCultural Leadership, the Mexico Study Tour, the Student Diversity Board and La Fuerza, a student-run group.

Jeanne Choquehuanca, co-president of La Fuerza, sees inclusion on this list as a way for Saint Mary’s to distinguish itself from other institutions.

“The honors tell us that we are making a difference in our efforts for greater diversity and tolerance,” she said. “Still, there is an obvious lack of diversity at our college, and this award hopefully will not indicate to our community that efforts for greater diversity should lessen.”

La Fuerza works to promote Latina culture both on and off campus.

“This organization especially aims to reach out to incoming Latina and minority students. These efforts are sometimes difficult, but we always extend our welcome and support to all students,” Choquehuanca said.

Veronica Dominguez, a sophomore Latina student at the College, said Saint Mary’s offers a welcoming environment – to all its students.

“I do not feel that Saint Mary’s is only a good environment for Hispanics. It is a caring environment with the common goal of preparing strong women for the future,” she said.

This recognition by Hispanic Outlook is not the first distinction for the College regarding academic rankings.

“Just like our number one ranking by U.S. News & World Report, recognition by Hispanic Outlook brings news of our excellence to a broader audience,” McDonald said.

Hispanic Outlook Magazine has served as the premier news source for Hispanic education in higher education for 17 years. Published biweekly, the magazine reaches approximately 50,000 readers annually.