UWM celebrates growing Latinx presence on campus

A total of 446 Latinx students graduated from UWM during the 2022-23 school year, a number that continue to grow every year at the university.

“This is pretty important because last year (2021-2022) we were just over the 400 mark,” said Alberto Maldonado, director of the university’s Roberto Hernández Center and co-leader of UWM’s effort to be officially designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. “For us, that increase of 40-plus students is significant.”

The graduation numbers include both undergraduate and graduate students.

The numbers are looking even more promising with 743 Latinx and multicultural (including some Latinx background) students – first year, transfer and entry – enrolled for fall semester as of early August. This is approximately 18% of the incoming class, Maldonado said.

Feeling comfortable with people of different backgrounds

Oscar Lopez, a May graduate, is one of those students. He said he chose UWM because he felt that diversity was a crucial part of his education.

“I think it’s important for students to feel comfortable with people of different backgrounds,” he said. “It helps all individuals to have a more rounded career.”

Lopez, who grew up in Rockford, Illinois, earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and is finishing up a minor in journalism, advertising and media studies this summer.

Like several other 2022-2023 Hispanic graduates, Lopez finished his studies with a 4.0. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

“I think it’s important to highlight these students and to let the community know that UWM is doing a great job in getting them to the finish line,” Maldonado said. He is particularly proud of these most recent graduates, many of them first-generation students, because they are the children of the pandemic.

“These are the students that went through the worst time in our history in terms of being isolated and dealing with all kinds of issues,” Maldonado said. “To see them graduating is, in my opinion, quite remarkable.”

‘A good experience’

Lopez is working in human resources at Taylor, an Illinois company that makes ice cream and restaurant equipment, this summer and is interning at Mexican Fiesta doing public relations and social media. He’s grateful for the support he received from the Roberto Hernández Center and through his academic programs.

“For me, UWM was overall a good experience.”

In the fall, he’s heading to DePaul University to start on his master’s degree in advertising and public relations.

More than 100 of the incoming 2023 students and their parents gathered Aug. 3 for a welcome event at the Lubar School of Business and the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.

Students and parents had a chance to tour campus, enjoy refreshments, meet staff from the Roberto Hernandez Center and other university departments and ask questions about courses, financial aid, housing, transportation and other topics.

An easy choice

Students offered a variety of reasons for choosing UWM.

Isabella Ramirez said she wanted to be on a campus in a bigger city. “UWM is big enough, but not too big,” she said.

Massimo Romito moved to the U.S. 10 months ago, and plans to major in architecture. When he found out about UWM’s strong architecture program, coming here was an easy decision, he said.

Bryan Felix, an incoming first year student, was also attracted by a strong program in film, video, animation and new genres.

For Jonathan Guijosa, who plans to major in psychology, the facts that the university is close to home and that his sister goes there were key factors in his choice.

Financial factors were important to Jesus Garcia Rodriguez, another first year student. And, he added, “My brother goes here, so I know it’s a good school.”

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