Fostering a Diverse Workforce: New Jersey Institute of Technology Earns HSI Designation

Technology May 2024 PREMIUM

 Public institutions like NJIT play a crucial role in promoting educational equity, particularly for marginalized groups. NJIT's designation as a Hispanic-serving institution reflects its commitment to diversity and preparing students for success in STEM fields, fostering real-world experiences and opportunities for underrepresented minorities.


Public institutions are assuming an ever more pivotal role in safeguarding educational equity, particularly for marginalized communities. As education serves as the cornerstone of career success and societal advancement, the imperative for public institutions to effectively prepare students from underserved backgrounds is undeniable.

A year earlier than targeted, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) has earned the federal distinction of being a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI), a key component to NJIT deepening its diversity and better serving its home city of Newark. The HSI designation was earned, in part, through the support and advocacy of the university’s Hispanic and Latinx Leadership Council, an advisory group of NJIT alumni, employees, students and other volunteer leaders that was formed in 2021 to strengthen NJIT’s connections with Hispanic alumni, prospective students and their families, businesses and organizations.

Building upon this imperative, NJIT, as the state’s sole public polytechnic university, has forged a storied legacy in nurturing the region’s workforce since its inception in 1881. As an essential public education entity of public education in the city, state, and region, NJIT has continually evolved to meet the dynamic needs of underserved populations, solidifying its commitment to equitable access and opportunity.

With this designation, NJIT is just one of 22 institutions that are both Hispanic-serving and the highest-rated in research (R1 by Carnegie Classification). NJIT’s total research expenditures top $178 million annually, driving innovation and economic growth while preparing students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century.

NJIT’s success in preparing students for a successful career is evident. The New York Times college ranking tool rates NJIT No. 1 nationally among all public universities when you prioritize high alumni earnings, economic mobility and academic profile, and The Wall Street Journal ranks NJIT No. 19 overall and No. 2 among public universities in the United States. NJIT continues to climb the U.S. News & World Report rankings as a top 100 institution and is similarly ranked in Payscale’s College Salary Report, which reports on mid-career earnings of alumni.

“This designation makes us eligible for federal grants that can expand educational opportunities for Hispanic and Latinx students and improve their outcomes,” President Teik C. Lim said. “It also reaffirms our commitment to deliver a holistic education that creates economic opportunity for all of our graduates, particularly first-generation students.”

To start the 2023 academic year, NJIT welcomed a new class that set enrollment and diversity records. Total enrollment is up 28% since 2013, reaching a new high of more than 13,000 students.

Underrepresented minorities also set a new record, making up 44% of the first-year class, underscoring NJIT’s dedication to offering STEM education to traditionally underserved groups. The number of first-year students identifying as Black has more than doubled since 2013, and Hispanic first-year enrollment has reached over 30% for the second year in a row. And in the pursuit to enroll more women in STEM, NJIT has again eclipsed the 30% mark for female enrollees.

Here are some of NJIT’s standout Hispanic students: 

Industrial design major Johmary Adames draws her best inspiration from her homeland, the Dominican Republic. Now a U.S. citizen from Rockaway, N.J., her Dominican roots and culture inspired her to have an interest in art and design. “Since I was little, I’ve seen vibrant colors, and Dominican design. The culture lit something up in me,” she said.

Adames graduated from Morris Knolls High School and attended the County College of Morris, where she began studying interior design, but over time, she switched to industrial design. After transferring to NJIT, Adames joined forces with Dr. Krupesh Patel to design a protective cover to shield patients’ mediports. 

Mediports are small, surgically installed devices usually placed on the chest of cancer patients. They are used for easier, long-term access to draw labs, transfusions and administer infusible medications such as chemotherapy. 

She saw this opportunity as one that connects her profession to the real world. “In the studio, we gain experience solving design problems, but this is the first time I'm solving a problem for a real client,” she noted. “It’s been interesting getting real-world experience in different fields while also having my professor guiding me through the process.”

Jorge Alberto Medina decided to come to NJIT to complete his Ph.D. in computer engineering because of how the university’s program aligned with his professional interests. Medina did research on how to improve the performance of blockchain systems, as well as applications in different fields such as healthcare.

His experience in his native Honduras allowed him to be responsible for the networking laboratory and teach classes at NJIT. For his great work, Medina was recognized with the award for Excellence in Instruction by Teaching Assistants award at the Second Annual Celebration of Academic Excellence. 

Medina, a resident of Parsippany, appreciated all the opportunities he got at NJIT. “Seeing how these opportunities exist for us Hispanics feels great because I think this shows that in our countries there are trained people who can aspire to this type of technical career,” he said. “Look, I come from a country where opportunities are very limited, but I see my case, and the opportunities really are there, and with more Hispanics studying these careers and knowing that there are universities like NJIT that are also supporting the inclusion of Hispanic people and other countries, I think that will open more doors for other people to want to move forward.”

Isabella Gil joined the NJIT School of Architecture in 2019 and today interns three days a week at the architecture firm MVMK's Hoboken office. Last semester, she earned two awards: the Architecture Excellence in Design Award and the Jarmel Kizel Architects and Engineers Endowed Scholarship.

“With the internship, I’m going three times a week, and I also work as a waitress on the weekends in Hoboken. Time management has been very important,” Gil said. “There is no time that is not designed. I always have something to do, so I try to organize my time well enough to be able to accomplish everything.”

In the future, Gil is interested in getting involved in large-scale urban planning projects, but she has a special space for public buildings, such as museums, libraries or cultural museums. “I feel that architecture has more meaning when it has different layers,” she says, referring to how she likes to create her designs.

Gil, a Venezuelan native, and now a U.S. citizen, wants her story to resonate with other young people who may experience something similar in the United States.

“Each of the achievements that I make, or recognitions that they give me, I say, ‘Wow, an immigrant who comes from Venezuela, who did not start her education here, a person like me can do it, other people can also achieve it.’ It fills me with pride to know that being from another country does not stop you; rather, it gives you more possibilities if you put in the effort,” she said.


About the author: 

Nayib Moran, a Houston, Texas native, is a bilingual content producer at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Since arriving at NJIT in 2022, Moran has produced bilingual stories on Hispanic students’ successes and has launched the university’s Spanish news section. Throughout his career, he has lived in Spain, México and the U.S.


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