ASU's soaring Hispanic graduation rates fuel career empowerment event

October 2, 2023

Arizona State University has a longstanding commitment to supporting increased college enrollment and graduation rates of Hispanic students. In an effort to promote career growth and development among college students in the Hispanic/Latino community, ASU partnered with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to present a Career Connection Day.

More than 100 ASU students eager to begin their professional journeys participated in the event that took place Saturday, Sept. 30, in the Student Pavilion at ASU's Tempe campus. Brochures that read "Your future starts here" sitting on a table. Download Full Image

“The Career Connection Day is a key component of the Hispanic Career Pathways Initiative, a collaborative effort that aims to empower Hispanic and Latinxgender-neutral alternative to Latino/a students with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to navigate their paths to career success,” said Safali Patel, associate vice president and executive director of ASU Career Services.

The half-day event provided the opportunity for students to tap into the insights and experiences of Career Services representatives and accomplished ASU alumni who have succeeded in their respective careers. The participants engaged in an array of essential career-building skills designed to support and inspire them, such as resume development, interview techniques and navigating the job market. Program highlights included guest speakers from both HSF and ASU, in-depth sessions on career best practices, valuable tools and resources, a panel discussion on career support, exciting prize giveaways and complimentary breakfast and lunch for all attendees.

“I am an online student and Hispanic, so attending an event like this helps me to get more involved in person and provides more exposure to opportunities,” said Daniel Castillo, an ASU junior studying health and biological sciences.

With a focus on inclusive excellence and alignment with the ASU Charter, the program reached a historically underrepresented Hispanic and Latino community of students while helping to ensure equitable career outcomes for all ASU students.

One in four ASU students identifies as Hispanic/Latino, totaling more than 31,000 students. Those growing numbers follow a year in which ASU was recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, earned a second Seal of Excelencia by Excelencia in Education and joined the Presidents for Latino Student Success.

Over the past two decades, from 2003 to 2013, ASU graduated 18,424 Hispanic/Latino students. This number increased by 175% to 50,609 in the following decade (2013 to 2023).

Woman standing behind a lectern speaking to a crowd in an auditorium.

Andrea Garcia, director of strategic partnerships for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, presents at Career Connection Day. Photo by Devon Baggot/ASU Student Life

“Reflecting on the historic growth in enrollment and graduation rates of Hispanic students at ASU brings me tremendous pride,” said Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales. “This growth also underscores the vital importance of preparing our students for careers not just academically but in how to demonstrate their expertise when meeting future employers. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with HSF and their support for Career Connection Day. I strongly encourage all students to take advantage of events like these that are designed to support your transition to meaningful career experiences after graduation.”

For nearly half a century, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund has been a vital source of college-readiness information and resources for Hispanic families, having awarded more than $675 million in scholarships and enabling countless students to pursue and earn college degrees.

“HSF provides a continuum of career support programs and services designed to give Hispanic college students the knowledge, network and skills needed to find meaningful employment in their field of interest and achieve career success in a knowledge-driven global economy,” said Andrea Garcia, director of strategic partnerships at HSF.

Since 2015, ASU has partnered with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, hosting numerous HSF initiatives, including College Camp — a free, bilingual event to help sixth through 12th grade students and their families learn more about the college admissions and financial aid processes. In April of this year, ASU was honored with the organization’s prestigious Education Partner of the Year award.

“The opportunity to present the Career Connections Day in collaboration with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund builds on an already strong relationship that directly impacts the academic and professional success of our students,” said James Rund, senior vice president of Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU. “Our connection to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund adds great value to ASU's ability to connect our students to accessible financial, career and academic resources."

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ASU to lead USAID award to bolster leadership, entrepreneurial training for African youth

The $80 million in funding is the largest USAID award in ASU’s history.
October 2, 2023

$80M award funds YALI Africa, the next phase of signature U.S. investment in Africa's youth

Africa enjoys an abundance of natural resources — arable land, renewable fresh water, vast mineral wealth and more — but its most valuable asset may be its youth.

By 2030, it's expected that 42% of the world’s 15- to 35-year-olds will live in Africa. This growing demographic is inheriting a litany of challenges, both regional and global. Successfully navigating these challenges and charting a thriving future hinge on the development of young leaders and the creation of economic opportunity.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has tapped Arizona State University to help realize that future. Backed by $80 million in funding — the largest USAID award in the university’s history — ASU is assembling a coalition to empower Africa’s youth with the tools, education and network to succeed.

The award, Young African Leaders Initiative Legacy Localization (YALI LL) will work with the Education and Youth division of USAID’s Africa Bureau to advance this goal through the YALI Africa project, which takes YALI into its next phase.

“Arizona State University is proud of the strong and future-focused global partnership we share with USAID,” says ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This award reflects our enthusiastic commitment to using all we have to create new learning opportunities and resources that support the success of learners in Africa. USAID’s growing confidence will fuel taking our efforts to a higher level.”

The YALI Africa project will be funded by USAID and implemented by ASU’s International Development Initiative, drawing on the unique capabilities of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Initiative and EdPlus.

“I believe one of our greatest strengths as a university is the ability to not only generate knowledge but apply it to real-world challenges in novel ways,” says Sally C. Morton, executive vice president of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “This project represents a tremendous opportunity for ASU to employ our problem-solving engine on a continental scale and support African youth as they chart their future on the global stage.”

Partnering with ASU are FHI 360, the African Diaspora NetworkGeeks Without Frontiers, N50 and CoELIB at Egerton University in Kenya. An African team of experts will implement day-to-day activities across 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, operating from four hubs based in Nairobi, Kenya; Dakar, Senegal; Accra, Ghana; and Pretoria, South Africa.

“There’s no way to work through any issue in Africa — whether it’s health, food, climate — without considering and understanding how youth are going to factor in. It’s a thread running through all African issues and discussions,” says Stephen Feinson, managing director of the International Development Initiative in ASU Knowledge Enterprise.

The award follows through on last year’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C., where the Biden administration announced new and expanded initiatives to empower African institutions and people. YALI was among the programs the White House renewed its investment in, pledging to invest $100 million over multiple years.

“We are thrilled to be working with Arizona State University as we continue to provide young African leaders, both women and men, the opportunity to have an impact on their communities, their countries and their continent,” says Denise O’Toole, acting YALI coordinator for USAID. “This new award will ensure that the YALI Regional Leadership Centers will provide the best leadership training opportunities to these amazing young African leaders and will also mean a much richer and more effective engagement with our more than 24,000 YALI alumni.”

Young people in Africa face a host of challenges: governmental corruption, political instability, extremism and inequality. Intensifying these issues is a lack of economic opportunity, according to Joyce Ogesi, who serves as the chief of party on YALI LL and will direct the project team in Africa.

Launched in 2010 under the Obama administration, YALI was established to address these issues by empowering young African leaders through three complementary programs: the USAID YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs), the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the YALI Network.

The RLCs are free educational and leadership training hubs, located within higher education institutions, that deliver courses in civic leadership, public management and entrepreneurship for young Africans. The Mandela Washington Fellowship sponsors young African business and community leaders for six-week stays at U.S. universities for academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities. The YALI Network is a free, online learning portal that includes courses, videos and opportunities to earn certifications on a range of topics.

ASU was an early YALI partner; the Watts College helped develop the public management curriculum, taught courses and trained instructors for the East Africa RLC in Kenya, and hosted young leaders in the Mandela Washington Fellowship since the program’s inception in 2014.

Over the next five years, the YALI LL award aims to streamline recruitment, admissions, curriculum and communications through a new, on-continent framework called YALI Africa. YALI Africa will expand leadership training opportunities for young African leaders across the continent and build on previous successes at the four RLCs located in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa and increase diversity among participants, expanding access to more women, rural youth and underrepresented populations. YALI LL also aims to cultivate a community where YALI alumni can connect and find mentorship and employment opportunities.

“Essentially, the end goal is a program designed by Africans, led by Africans, supporting Africans,” Feinson says.

Though the goals of the new award are ambitious, the Africa-based staff members are optimistic.

“I can see (YALI Africa) creating a movement and a force in Africa that could allow us to face our challenges together,” Ogesi says.

Pete Zrioka

Assistant director of content strategy , Knowledge Enterprise