HACU will also honor UVU’s Latino Scientists of Tomorrow program

SAN DIEGO, CA — Utah Valley University (UVU) received the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Outstanding Member Institution award on Oct. 9 at the HACU national conference in San Diego. Dr. Kyle A. Reyes, vice president of institutional advancement, accepted the award on behalf of the university.

“We believe in inclusive education,” said Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University. “We especially focus on creating opportunities for those who are underrepresented. Since its inception in 2007, the Latino Initiative has increased UVU’s Hispanic enrollment by 398% and graduation by 724%. UVU has the largest Latino student enrollment among four-year higher education institutions in Utah. Dr. Reyes is part of that success; before his recent roles, he served as UVU’s chief diversity officer and developed our nationally recognized, campus-wide strategic inclusion and diversity plan.”

The 36th annual conference was themed “Championing Hispanic Higher Education Success: Rebuilding a More Resilient and Inclusive America.” The HACU award was established to honor institutions that provide extraordinary support for HACU’s mission and to recognize these institutions’ efforts to facilitate educational success among Latino students. Part of HACU’s mission is to improve: “access to and the quality of post-secondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.”

“We are so grateful for the support from HACU as we continue to serve our growing and diverse communities,” Reyes said. “It was an honor to accept this distinguished award on behalf of Utah Valley University. Inclusivity is among our founding pillars. We have led the way in initiatives to open the door to success for everyone. We are especially proud of the Latino Scientists of Tomorrow Summer Bridge Program and its success in helping students envision a future and providing the tools they need to achieve their goals.”

HACU will also recognize UVU’s collaboration with HACU and Dominion Energy to replicate UVU’s Latino Scientists of Tomorrow Summer Bridge Program at six universities across the United States and Puerto Rico. Dr. Yudi Lewis, former program director of the Latino Initiative, will be honored for her role in creating the program.

Now in its 13th year at UVU, the Latino Scientists of Tomorrow Summer Bridge Program is designed to assist Latinos and other students in becoming scientists, engineers, and business leaders. Each summer, approximately 50 tenth- and eleventh-grade students across Utah participate in the seven-week course on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Through the program, students explore science fields such as biotechnology and geology.

“All students should have access to a quality education and be provided with the skills to achieve exciting new career opportunities,” said Carter Reid, executive vice president and chief of staff for Dominion Energy. “This is a step toward improving equity for Hispanic students and increasing diversity in STEM careers.”

Students can earn three to six college credits by participating in the Latino Scientists of Tomorrow Summer Bridge Program and are surrounded by success teams, which include parents, mentors, and faculty. To date, more than 450 students have completed the program. In 2021 alone, 134 students from 42 Utah high schools and two out-of-state schools graduated from the program.