As UCF continues to evolve as a Hispanic Serving Institution, during the Fall 2020 semester a new Latinx Leadership Development (LDR 3215) course launched to help bolster students’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation for Latinx individuals in influential positions.

HSI designations are awarded to universities and colleges with a student population that is at least 25% Hispanic/Latinx, allowing these institutions to apply for federal funding to improve the educational experience of these students and those with low-income.

The course currently is only open to second-year LEAD Scholars and available during fall semesters. However, Maritza Torres, LEAD Scholars Academy’s assistant director and instructor for the course, has hopes to broaden the course to other academic departments across campus.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring this course to UCF,” Torres says. “Considering UCF is an HSI, I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to share tenets of this course with the broader campus community.”

How did the concept for this course develop?
I began developing this course when I was a doctoral student after a discussion with my dissertation chair about my research interests. It took me about six to 10 months from development to implementation.

What should students take this course?
Students should take this course if they want to learn another leadership framework through a cultural lens. It is a great opportunity to learn about leadership in the context of the culture and tradition of the Latinx culture.

Are students who are not from Latinx backgrounds encouraged to take this course?
I’m a huge believer that anyone from all different backgrounds can learn about Latinx leadership. Many people are practicing the tenets of Latinx leadership and possibly do not even realize it. I think learning about leadership through different cultural lenses can help individuals to be more open minded and develop a better understanding for others.

What are some things students will learn in this course?
Students will study, explore and apply class concepts to current topics in Latinx culture, history and news. They’ll also critically analyze and reflect on their past and current leadership learning experiences both internally and as a group to understand how those experiences have cultivated their Latinx leadership development and the development in others.

By engaging with their peers and guest speakers, students will be able to apply best practices and concepts of Latinx leadership development to current work trends, as well as enhance their personal and professional leadership development.

What does the coursework entail?
Students will read The Power of Latino Leadership by Juana Bordas, who is a Nicaraguan American community activist specializing in leadership development and diversity training. In this book, she does a fantastic job of breaking down the Latinx leadership framework, which includes 10 principles such as the character of leaders, personal awareness, collective community stewardship and global vision, for all audiences.

There will be in-depth discussions around concepts explained in the book as well as reading reflections. Students will also complete a testimonio, which is a first-person narrative of socially significant experiences, and a final paper on a Latinx leader or student movement.

There is also a requirement to complete 25 service hours with a Latinx agency or organization and report on the progress of these experiences throughout the semester.

What do you hope students gain from the course?
I hope they learn more about themselves and their leadership potential. I also hope they learn to be open minded to incorporating identity-based leadership models and frameworks into their own practice. For students who are of Latinx background, I hope they feel validated and affirmed in their approaches to leadership in the context of their cultural background.