When students from the first graduating Latinx cohort of the Doctor of Education Leadership for Educational Equity (EdD) program cross the commencement stage Saturday, they will join a rare group: minorities who hold doctorate degrees.
Even though the numbers of underrepresented minorities attaining doctorates in the United States steadily increased between 2006 and 2016, the gap was so big, the inequity remains high, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) report. Latinx students accounted for 7% of all U.S. doctorates awarded in 2016, the report said.
“We have an underrepresentation of people of Latinx heritage in education, period,” said Carlos P. Hipolito-Delgado, PhD, counselor and associate professor in the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD). “But when you look at principal and district administrator positions, that number is even less, and that’s concerning.”
Colorado doctorates awarded
Hispanic of any race: 47
Hispanic of any race: 10
(Source: Colorado Department of Education)
Growing Latinx population widens inequity
The SEHD program, recommended by alumni and spearheaded by Dean Rebecca Kantor, was aimed at arming Latinx graduates to close that gap, becoming the superintendents and community education leaders of tomorrow. A booming Latinx population in Denver and across the country compounds the inequity.
The cohort was recently honored by the Colorado House of Representatives for its perseverance and success.
Already the largest underrepresented minority group in the country, Latinx citizens are expected to make up one-third of the U.S. workforce by 2050, according to the Pew Research Center. And the majority of those jobs will require college degrees.
“There’s also a huge education achievement and potential gap for Latinx students,” Hipolito-Delgado said. “With this cohort, we are training a new batch of leaders keenly attuned to the needs of Latinx communities.”
Leader to cohort: ‘We all have stories; use them’
Delivering the keynote speech during a pre-graduation ceremony for his Latinx cohort, Joseph “Jose” Silva encouraged his fellow graduates to use their struggles and successes in mentoring and moving other underrepresented students forward.
“We all have stories,” said Silva, whose father was murdered before he was born and whose mother had a drug addiction and abandoned him when he was 14. Silva, who also witnessed his 12-year-old friend’s point-blank shooting death, recalled that as a turning point in his life.
Largely through mentors, Silva was able to earn a degree that helped propel a career as a Denver businessman and community leader, including in a mayoral-appointed role on the Denver Latino Commission.
Social network helps program members reach goals
The EdD program has a three- and five-year track and follows a cohort model designed to create a social network.
“We’ve all worked so hard to achieve this accomplishment,” said Tania Hogan, another Latinx cohort graduate. Hogan added that it wouldn’t have happened if not for the support the members gave each other during those three years.
“Our hope is that more students of color apply for doctoral programs and become change agents in leadership, equity and education.”
For more information on supporting the next Latinx Doctoral Cohort, contact Erin Sémon at [email protected] or 303-315-2098.