Focused on fueling Florida’s talent pipeline as the nation’s leading provider of diverse talent, UCF awards more than 5,000 degrees annually to Hispanic students.
UCF ranks No. 4 in the nation for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students, No. 4 for engineering degrees awarded to Hispanic students and No. 5 for computer science degrees awarded, according to rankings released today by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine.
Collectively, these rankings demonstrate how UCF is empowering students to unleash their potential in high-impact, high-demand careers, providing Florida’s critical industries with the talent they urgently need to be competitive and innovative.
Another national recognition — the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine — is a testament to how UCF is a richly diverse institution fully committed to creating an inclusive educational environment for students of all backgrounds.
“With a growing, dynamic Hispanic and Latino student population that reflects the demographics of our region and our nation, UCF looks like the future of America.” — Alexander N. Cartwright, UCF President
“Access to a high-quality education and exceptional student outcomes continue to be hallmarks of UCF,” says UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “With a growing, dynamic Hispanic and Latino student population that reflects the demographics of our region and our nation, UCF looks like the future of America. We are proud to have the tremendous opportunity to help our Hispanic and Latino students succeed and fuel the talent pipeline for industry.”
UCF, now in its fourth year as a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), proudly champions the success and wellbeing of its vibrant Hispanic/Latino/a/e/x students. Students graduate from UCF well-prepared and eager to make a strong impact in their careers and communities.
The Hispanic Outlook rankings consider degrees awarded in the 2020-21 academic year. UCF is ranked No. 3 for degrees in visual and performing arts awarded to Hispanic students, No. 9 for English language and literature and No. 22 for awarding master’s degrees to Hispanics.
In 2021-22, UCF awarded 4,429 bachelor’s degrees and 583 master’s degrees to Hispanic students — a steady rise from the 2020-21 academic year with 4,240 bachelor’s degrees and 563 master’s degrees awarded.
Expanding Educational Opportunities
Last year, UCF was awarded a total of $5.7 million through two U.S. Department of Education grants to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic/Latino/a/e/x students earning undergraduate and graduate degrees, while enhancing academic offerings across the university.
UCF fosters the involvement of Hispanic students in academic opportunities that help them connect with their cultural backgrounds. This includes funding students’ involvement with the HSI Battle of the Brains — a week-long networking event that matches students at HSIs to opportunities in the industry and includes a 24-hour hackathon/business plan competition, which a team of UCF students competed in and won third place this year.
“These rankings underscore the important role UCF plays in providing Latino talent to meet the economic needs of our nation,” says Cyndia Morales Muñiz ‘13EdD, senior director for HSI Initiative. “We embrace this responsibility and will continue to seek out resources that will help us strengthen our efforts to help our students leverage their cultural assets and achieve great success.”
Empowering Hispanic Students to Succeed in STEM
Earlier this year, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded $250,000 to UCF and its two partner schools in the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Public Research Universities to improve pathways for Hispanic/Latino/a/e/x students to STEM graduate programs. The philanthropic support will help unleash the potential of Hispanic students looking to become leaders in the STEM workforce. Through these supportive initiatives, Hispanic students at UCF, like industrial engineering major Diego Alonso, can feel prepared to succeed in their studies and beyond.
Since April, Alonso has been gaining hands-on experience in his field through the UCF Lockheed Martin College Work Experience Program (CWEP), which provides undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to work alongside innovators at Lockheed, a top aerospace and defense company. The senior from Miami, Florida, envisions himself working for the company, and through the program, has been able to explore other areas of quality engineering to help guide his career path.
“The CWEP has … been able to provide me with extremely valuable experiences in dealing with the business and engineering components of the company,” Alonso says. “I’ve worked on various projects and tasks … (and have been) able to venture outside of the textbooks and finally explore what industrial engineering is really like in the professional world.”
Despite Hispanics making up 17% of the total workforce nationally, only 8% of Hispanics are in STEM fields, according to Pew Research Center.
Despite Hispanics making up 17% of the total workforce nationally, only 8% of Hispanics are in STEM fields, according to Pew Research Center. UCF is dedicated to diversifying the field as one of the nation’s largest producers of engineering and technology talent. With the university’s strong neighboring industry presence, including L3Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Siemens to name a few, students are met with many opportunities to gain real-world experience in the STEM field that they can take with them into their careers.
Eduardo Morales ’15 ’20MS, an instrumentation and testing engineer for Siemens, is one mechanical engineering alumnus who successfully landed a job in his field after interning for one of these industry giants. After joining the UCF Young Entrepreneurs & Scholars Program, Morales secured an internship with Lockheed Martin for two years, and then continued interning with the company until he graduated through the CWEP.
“I was one of the first in my family to go to a university, as I’m a first-generation American and first-generation college student, so there was a big learning curve,” says Morales, a UCF 30 Under 30 honoree. “There were quite a few programs and services that … helped me while I was at UCF. [One of which was the] UCF EXCEL Program, which … helped me transition into the college life and also helped by having an immediate student community to network with.”
Supporting Success for Students of All Backgrounds
With the belief that everyone can achieve their goals and reach their full potential, UCF continues its efforts to ensure students of all backgrounds, including Hispanics, feel supported and included throughout their college journey and beyond.
This year, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, awarded UCF a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award for the eighth consecutive year — recognizing the university’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Through the creation of inclusive spaces, UCF seeks to promote diversity and cultural awareness. UCF’s Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community, for example, provides students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the greater Orlando community, a way to build cross-cultural and global competencies needed to thrive in a diverse and interconnected workforce and society.
“UCF takes pride in its growing diversity and is committed to preparing leaders for essential roles that require a wide range of experiences and perspectives,” says UCF Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Andrea Guzmán. “We believe that with unity, comes strength, and with inclusion, comes innovation.”