Wired And Connected But…? By Gustavo A. Mellander

Is it necessary to read and write to succeed in college? Students also need technological proficiency skills. They are essential. Yet too many Hispanics aren’t sufficiently computer savvy or Internet knowledgeable to function effectively when they arrive at college.

Hispanics and Computers 

A decade ago I wrote an article for Hispanic Outlook on this topic. Later it appeared in “Education Digest” renamed “High Tech: Help or Hindrance for Hispanics in College.” 
Studies had indicated that Hispanics although attending computer classes in high school and college were falling behind non-Hispanic students. Homework assignments that required computers were not completed. Hispanic students did poorly in classes which required accurate computer skills. 

The reason? Most Hispanic students did not own computers nor have them at home. Further, for a number of reasons, they could not access computers at local libraries, so they could not hone their computer skills. 

The issue was addressed at elite institutions by mandating all Freshmen-purchased computers. Later, other institutions simply issued them to all students and increased fees, billed financial aid, etc. 

Smartphones galore

The present reality has now shifted to handheld devices, which provide students easy access to computer information.

Recently, my wife and I went out for dinner.  I looked around the crowded dining room. Only one couple was engaged in conversation. They were young, in their early twenties. Theirs was an animated ex-change, punctuated with smiles and an occasional laugh. 

I told my wife, “I bet they aren’t married.” She gave me a wane smile and hoped, I am sure, I would not comment on every other person in the restaurant.

I ignored her lack of enthusiasm and incipient disapproval.  True to form, I glanced around the room.

Another table had what I surmised to be a seven-year-old boy, a 10-year-old sister and a 13-year-old brother with their parents. Each child had an iPad, and all were busily engaged, communicating with friends or playing games, I suppose.

Father was on his smartphone frowning occasionally: maybe checking out his investments or perhaps touching base with a business colleague. Mother was on her cellphone as well, maybe texting friends or perhaps she was on Facebook, sending pictures or commenting on incoming mail.

The father turned his cellphone off and clearly told the children to do the same — to no avail. The wife frowned at him and continued her private electronic conversation. The children never disconnected. They swallowed gulps of food barely moving their eyes off their iPads. 
I smugly thought, “Well, Hispanics don’t act that way.  They are family-oriented.”

Nielsen on Latinos and smartphones

That warm bubble began to disintegrate as I remembered Nielsen had reported that “Latinos are adopting smartphones faster than other U.S. ethnic and racial groups.” So why should their behavior, given the fullness of time, be different from anyone else?

I rummaged through my computer and was pleasantly surprised to find the three-year-old report.

Nielsen reported that 72 percent of Latinos over the age of 18 own smartphones. That was nearly 10 percentage points higher than the national average. Nearly half of them, 49 percent, planned to upgrade their smartphones within six months.

One can assume the family I saw at a Florida restaurant are a harbinger of the future for all of us.

Growing up too soon

Another reality: a few weeks later, I visited a group of seventh and eighth graders in a predominantly Hispanic school. The vast majority, 67 percent, have been in this country less than a year and know virtually no English at all. 

Valiant teachers teach U.S. history in Spanish and introduce as much English as they can. But given societal and family realities, it is hard to build that bridge. Very few students actually become bilingual, many become alienated, few finish high school, some (boys and girls) join the military desperate to escape.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that thousands of Hispanics have overcome similar circumstances and successfully entered the country’s mainstream. We must celebrate our victories.

The connection

What did all the children I visited — I call them children because even though they are growing up far too fast, they are still children — have in common?  They ALL had cellphones — given to them by welfare officers. Some were more sophisticated and up-to-date than the ones their teachers had purchased. 

Some teachers struggle to keep the phones shut off in class, some collect them at the beginning of every class. Others having been physically threatened and verbally abused have given up.

I was allowed to speak to the students alone. I emphasized I was neither a teacher nor a policeman. They loosened up but fiercely defended “their right” to use their phones however and whenever they wanted. 

The girls told me they used their cellphones to communicate with friends and keep up with celebrity news.  

Later, I met the boys separately. They challenged me and again defended “their right” to use their cellphones whenever. 

At first, they assured me they were just keeping in touch with their friends. “Come on, I know you are looking at girls,” I ventured. A few guffawed, and others laughed out loud. I knew I was right.  

Bottom Line

Something is wrong. We can’t and shouldn’t put the genie back in the bottle. Instant communication and untold information is at our fingertips.  There are many benefits, but there are dark ramifications as well.

Communication with “the world” is easy and rampant but shrinking among many families. Open access has some age-based limitations, but who’s supervising that?

Youngsters and even college-trained young professionals are placing personal material on the Internet, which could hurt them personally and professionally down the road. Pictures of a scantily dressed student on Spring break, inebriated, could be and have been viewed to their detriment by potential employers or those who wish to harm them.   

Shouldn’t society craft effective strategies to protect youngsters against themselves as they navigate our Wired Age? 

LA POET LAUREATE Luis J. Rodriguez Teaches as Scholar-in-Residence at CSUN, By California State University, Northridge

Aspiring writers and poets at California State University, Northridge had the opportunity to learn from the ultimate mentor this spring. None other than the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, Luis J. Rodriguez, a lifelong Angeleno and self-proclaimed “Valley Guy,” is serving as scholar-in-residence this semester and teaching a literature course in the Department of Chicana/o Studies. The class, “The Heartbeat at the Periphery: How Marginalized and Oppressed Literature is Moving the Culture,” focuses on works by people of color and labeled as “other” in the United States, including Chicana/o, Native American, African-American and LGBTQ writers, Rodriguez said. The graduate-level class includes undergraduates and graduate students. “I link literature to real life, to the world we’re in —poetry and its various rhythms, and its impact on people’s lives,” Rodriguez said. “Most of the time, young people are not exposed to great literature any more. Often, the canon is narrowed to white writers. My goal is to connect this great literature to the real world.”
Luis J. Rodriguez speaks to CSUN students, faculty and staff at a May 2015 event honoring his appointment as Los Angeles Poet Laureate. PHOTO BY DAVID J. HAWKINS

Luis J. Rodriguez speaks to CSUN students, faculty and staff at a May 2015 event honoring his appointment as Los Angeles Poet Laureate. PHOTO BY DAVID J. HAWKINS

As his CSUN students explore authors such as Luis Alberto Urrea and Audre Lorde and exercise their own writing muscles in the class, Rodriguez said he’s seen their writing improve.
“I want them to be activists about this new kind of literature,” he said. “I’m encouraging them and challenging them, so they’re more able to use language in a powerful way—language that connects to their own lives.”

Chicana/o Studies major Mayra Zaragoza said she jumped at the chance to take a class with Rodriguez who has served as her mentor at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore in Sylmar. The center is popular with CSUN students and includes the headquarters for Rodriguez’s Tia Chucha Press.

“[The class] is a great opportunity for young writers because he is very honest when it comes to helping anyone who wants to go into the field,” said Zaragoza, 25, a junior. “He is Chicano, and when you think poet, you don’t necessarily think Chicano.

“Him being here is such an honor and a privilege for us because his story is very unique,” she said. “He went from being in a gang to turning his life around through poetry and writing.”

Brought up in Watts and East Los Angeles, Rodriguez is a community activist and vocal advocate for the power of words to change lives. Best known for his memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.,” Rodriguez is also an award-winning poet. His collections include “My Nature is Hunger,” “The Concrete River,” “Trochemoche” and “Poems Across the Pavement.” He published a sequel to “Always Running” in 2011 called “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.” The following year, the book became a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. Rodriguez will release a new book of poetry, “Borrowed Bones,” this spring.

“We are fortunate to have him on campus this semester as a guest lecturer,” said Chicana/o Studies lecturer Maria Elena Fernandez, herself a published author. “He is the Poet Laureate of Los Angeles — it’s pretty exciting.”

This spring, Rodriguez also is leading a monthly men’s healing circle on campus, a group designed to give male students and other members of the CSUN community a safe place to discuss tough issues such as race, family and social justice.

“A lot of guys don’t have places to go to talk,” Rodriguez said. “We’re talking about campus life, issues of race and growth, how to handle crisis. It’s a place where young people can share and open up.”

Former Provost Harry Hellenbrand approached Rodriguez about teaching at CSUN after a May 2015 event on campus, when the Department of Chicana/o Studies honored him for his appointment by Mayor Eric Garcetti as the city’s Poet Laureate. The Office of the Provost and the dean’s office in the College of Humanities collaborated to bring the poet as scholar-in-residence for the spring 2016 semester, he said. “I love it, and I would love to return,” Rodriguez said.

His students said they are benefitting from exposure to literature from different voices and different perspectives.

“The literature we’re reading is trying to make us think outside the box, with new settings,” Zaragoza said. “[Rodriguez] is trying to help us make connections to stories in a whole new way. He’s trying to help us see our own lives as stories.”

As part of his term as CSUN scholar-in-residence, Rodriguez presented a “Big Read” of his poetry on Wednesday, April 20. 

The Ever-Expanding Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress, By Frank DiMaria

 As the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the Library of Congress serves as the research arm of Congress. It’s the largest library in the world with millions of items including books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its holdings. 

Hispanic reading room

The Library of Congress comprises 12 reading rooms with none more important to Hispanic professors and those collecting information on Hispanic history and culture than the Hispanic Reading Room. Housed in the Jefferson Building, it serves as the primary access point for research relating to those parts of the world encompassing the geographical areas of the Caribbean, Latin America and Iberia as well as the indigenous cultures of those areas and peoples throughout the world historically influenced by Luso-Hispanic heritage. 

“The Library of Congress houses 12 million items relating to the Hispanic World. Of these 12 million items, two and a half million are books. We oversee these materials. We help people get to these materials such as maps, recordings, manuscripts, reference books and artifacts,” said Georgette Dorn, chief of the Hispanic Division at the Library of Congress. “We collect everything. It’s the best Hispanic collection in the world. There is so much to be proud of.”

The Hispanic Reading Room is the center for Hispanic studies at the Library of Congress and offers services in English, Spanish and Portuguese. About 250 researchers visit the reading room each month to view Hispanic materials of all kinds. 

When researchers interested in exploring the library’s holdings on Hispanic cultures arrive on the library’s campus, they first visit the Madison Building. There they are photographed and given an ID. The ID provides them access to all 12 of the library’s reading rooms, is valid for two years and is renewable infinitely. Then they make their way to the Jefferson Building. “They come to the Hispanic Reading room and state their case. We had a recent case of somebody from West Virginia, a professor who came looking for machismo in the works of a certain U.S.-Hispanic writer. So the reference librarian sat down with him at the computer,” Dorn said.

When researchers, or as Dorn calls them readers, request materials, it takes the reading room about one hour to secure those materials, provided they are in one of the three buildings on campus. If, however, they are stored off campus in the library’s remote location in Culpepper, Virginia, it can take up to 24 hours for the materials to arrive at the reading room.


To make the best use of their time, researchers who are planning to visit the reading room can request materials in advance through the library’s automated catalog on the Internet. “This is a new service we began offering last year,” Dorn said. 

Recording the Spoken Word 

Visiting the Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress is one way to access Hispanic materials and perform research, but it’s not the only way. Today, researchers and the general population can listen to audio recordings of prominent Hispanic writers made available through the Library of Congress’s website.

In 1943, American poet Archibald MacLeish who was the Librarian of Congress at the time began recording the readings of poets and writers. During the process, someone came to be recorded. That recording made a significant impression on MacLeish. “A Lat-in-American poet came by and read a MacLeish poem translated into Spanish. MacLeish said ‘why not record Hispanic poets?’ So, they began recording Hispanic poets,” Dorn said. 

They started with those poets and writers in Spain and Latin America and expanded their efforts to include ones from Portugal, the Caribbean and Haiti. They even recorded U.S.

Hispanic poets who published their works in both English and Spanish. “In all those years we have collected over 700 readings by poets and writers from the greater Hispanic world,” Dorn said.

The collection is called The Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape at the Library of Congress, and it includes readings from Nobel Laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz as well as renowned writers Jorge Amado, Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar.

The 700 recordings were recorded at the library’s recording laboratory and at other locations around Spain and Latin America. To date, writers from 32 countries are represented in this collection, which includes readings in Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Náhuatl, Zapotec, Aymara, English and Dutch.

The website was launched on September 15 to coincide with U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s inaugural address. “This is the first time the U.S. has had a Hispanic poet Laureate, so the time was perfect. His speech is online also,” Dorn said.     

A Matter of Hispanic Pride

In 2014, the Hispanic Division worked with Congress to compile a directory of Hispanics who have served in the U.S. Congress from 1821 until 2012. “This is a 412 page book,” Dorn said. 
The book is called Hispanic Americans in Congress 1822–2012, and it contains extensive biographies, starting with that of Joseph Marion Hernández, a delegate from the Florida Territory who was the first Hispanic to serve in Congress. It also documents a number of historical captions detailing the evolution of the entire congressional representation. 

In addition to books, photos and maps the Library of Congress has 3-D items on display both at the library and online. The Hispanic Division acquired a collection of pre-Columbian artifacts in 2005, like figurines, and displays them in its Exploring the Early Americas Exhibit. The exhibit, which is on permanent display in the Jefferson Building, features selections from the more than 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints and artifacts that make up the Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress. 
The exhibit provides insight into indigenous cultures, the drama of the encounters between Native Americans and European explorers and settlers and the pivotal changes caused by the meeting of the American and European worlds. It also includes two extraordinary maps by Martin Waldseemüller created in 1507 and 1516, which depict a world enlarged by the presence of the Western Hemisphere.

The Library of Congress is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and it’s closed on weekends and federal holidays.

Buffett Foundation to focus on helping young women of color, By Jesse J. Holland

WASHINGTON (AP) - A foundation run by the youngest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett plans to spend $90 million to improve the lives of young women of color.

The NoVo Foundation, created in 2006 by Jennifer and Peter Buffett, the youngest son of Warren Buffett, plans to announce the multimillion investment on Wednesday. The foundation says this will be the largest single investment dedicated solely to addressing inequities faced by young female minorities in the United States.


The foundation will canvas the nation, talking to girls and their advocates to solicit ideas from them on how best to invest the money. The official funding process won’t begin until early 2017, the Buffetts said.

“Our goal is to create the conditions for change by advancing the work of the real experts in this movement: girls and young women of color and the advocates working with them,” Peter Buffett said. 

The investment is the latest public acknowledgment that adolescent female minorities need as much assistance as boys. One of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements is the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, a public-private effort started by the White House to help younger generations of blacks and other minorities stay on the right path. 

But many have noted that girls need just as much help. The White House acknowledged the gap in resources in 2014 with its creation of a new working group as an offshoot of the White House Council on Women and Girls chaired by a senior adviser to Obama, Valerie Jarrett. 

Girls and young women of color “need mentorships, they need summer job opportunities, they need somebody to believe in them because a lot of them grew up with nobody to believe in them,” Jarrett told the Black Women’s Roundtable. 

Even before the White House got involved, other groups around the country were working specifically on improving the lives of girls of color, including through programs like Black Girls Rock! Inc. and The Latina A.R.M.Y., Inc.

“The brilliant leadership of women of color activists all over this country has created a national movement to address these disparities, and philanthropy can and must do its part to respond and to support this movement,” said Pamela Shifman, executive director of the NoVo Foundation. “This is a break-through moment for girls and women of color, and we want to help ensure that it translates into lasting and meaningful change.”



Advocates for black women and girls have been using the term “Black Girl Magic” and the hashtag #BlackGirlMagic as a way of celebrating the achievements of black women and girls in American society, and to help bring attention to the needs of young women and girls of color.
NoVo staff will hold meetings in the South, Southeast and Midwest with young women, advocates and activists, as well as in New York City, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and other cities where it already has ongoing partnership before deciding where to put its money.
Among the issues affecting young female minorities in particular are education, poverty and pregnancy. The teen pregnancy rate for Hispanic and black girls is more than twice as high, and American Indian/Alaska native girls is nearly twice as high as that for white girls, despite double-digit drops in pregnancy rates since 1990.

Also, black girls are 14.6 percent less likely to graduate from high school than white girls, while Hispanic girls are 12.8 percent less likely and American Indian/Alaska native girls are 16 percent less likely.

About 40 percent of Native American girls, 39 percent of black girls and 30 percent of Hispanic girls live in poverty, compared with 20 percent of all girls. 

Del Mar College Strives to be the Antidote for Degree Disenchantment, by Michael Bratten

Editor’s Note: This issue of Hispanic Outlook focuses on graduate schools, but there are other options for those who hold bachelor degrees and want to retool their skills. Del Mar College’s offerings is consistent with a new national trend of degree holders returning to college to qualify for a lucrative profession and not necessarily an advanced degree. 

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice paved the way for Leticia Cervantes to become a licensed private investigator. But after a few years in the business, usually checking on unfaithful spouses for local attorneys, she craved a more reliable income and regular work hours. Her solution: go back to school and learn cosmetology. 

“I made the move because the economy is so unpredictable,” said Cervantes, 37, who in December received a certificate in cosmetology from Del Mar College. “My sister has always taught me that in times of economic crisis, people won’t hire a private investigator, but women will always get their hair and makeup done.”

Cervantes plans to take the state cosmetology exam this month, she said. Her older sister with whom she partnered in private investigations bought a beauty salon in 2014. The two will run the business together and take occasional sleuthing jobs on the side.

Cervantes’ story isn’t unusual at Del Mar. The college enrolls several hundred students each year who already have a bachelor’s degree, consistent with a national trend.

One out of every 14 people who attend community colleges has already earned a bachelor’s degree, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. An October 2015 article by U.S. News & World Report attributes the phenomenon in part to a failure by some four-year universities to prepare their graduates for jobs that are in demand locally. 

Leticia Cervantes (right), who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, returned to college to study cosmetology. She graduated from Del Mar College in December.

Leticia Cervantes (right), who holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, returned to college to study cosmetology. She graduated from Del Mar College in December.

Community colleges like Del Mar, which maintains a laser focus on local industry needs, welcome degree holders seeking more marketable job skills.

The Money Factor

There are many incentives for degree holders to retool. In the Texas Coastal Bend, career fields with promising job growth such as the healthcare and oil and gas industries often come with comfortable salaries.

“My goal is to make some darn money!” said Matthew Cavazos, 28, who enrolled in Del Mar’s Environmental/Petrochemical Lab Technology program last summer.

In 2010, as a wide-eyed young actor with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts, Cavazos wasn’t motivated by income potential, he said. His attitude changed last summer. Broke and soul-searching, he decided to channel his aptitude for chemistry into a career as a lab technician at a local refinery or petrochemical plant.

“I went from no future to an incredibly bright future,” Cavazos said. “With a few thousand dollars in tuition at Del Mar, I can go out and make about $50,000 a year starting out. After five years, you’re looking at making six figures. You can’t beat the economic leverage. It’s a no-brainer.”

No Regrets

Cavazos said while he doesn’t regret his earlier choices, he’s convinced that a two-year program at a community college will command the income and job opportunities that his four-year degree doesn’t.

He’s right, considering the existing industries and influx of new ones in the Coastal Bend, said Gwynell Westervelt, associate professor of Chemical Laboratory and Electroplating Technology at Del Mar. Thirty-eight billion dollars in direct investment is fueling growth in the region, including the construction of new iron manufacturing and liquefied natural gas plants.

“There is definitely an increased demand in the local market with all the new industry,” Westervelt said. “Also, the refinery labs have an aging workforce that will need to be replaced in the next five years or so. Probably as much as 50 percent of their workforce will be retiring.”
Demand is so high for people with an associate’s degree in Environmental/Petrochemical Lab Technology — the degree Cavazos is pursuing — that most of Westervelt’s students are employed by graduation, she said. 

Del Mar College 1

Job Outlook

Westervelt believes fewer degree holders would find themselves returning to colleges and universities to gain marketable job skills if they were better informed in the initial advising process.

“We need to make these students aware of everything that is available to them and tell them what the job outlook is for the major they’re exploring,” she said. “Colleges and universities aren’t producing nearly enough graduates with in-demand job skills.”

Career counselors at Del Mar use a battery of tools to help students choose a suitable major and gage the pay range and outlook for occupations they’re interested in. This includes online resources like Focus 2 (www.focuscareer2.com), O*NET OnLine (www.onetonline.org) and the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (www. bls.gov/ooh/).

“Our focus is to look at things realistically,” said Del Mar Career Counselor Fred Barrientos, MA. “We guide students, so they’re not wandering blindly.”

Career Advancement

Ben Gregory said he was “kind of lost” after graduating from a large Texas university with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. The degree, he thought, would be the key to advancing his career beyond the oilfield equipment sales and auto payment collections jobs he had held.

“I was very disappointed,” Gregory said. “I graduated with this grandiose idea that a B.A. would open doors. There really weren’t many opening.”

With a growing family, Gregory said he pondered his father-in-law’s advice to learn the air conditioning trade. He enrolled in Del Mar’s Air Conditioning Applied Technology program and excelled. In 2004, at age 40, he was hired to fill his professor’s vacant position. He also started his own air conditioning business. 

“My income and selfesteem were raised to levels I could only dream about before returning to college,” said Gregory, associate professor of Air Conditioning Applied Technology. “A bachelor’s degree is important, but you have to have a solid foundation of job skills. That’s what set me on the right track.”

Under Gregory’s guidance, his students are likely to avoid his circuitous route to success.
“AC and refrigeration is economy proof,” he said. “My graduates have no problem finding a job. The demand is beyond our wildest imagination.”

Rutgers Mini-MBA Program Reaching out to Veterans, by Gary M. Stern

To strengthen and improve the business careers of veterans, Rutgers Business School introduced a mini-MBA program, Business Management for Military and Veterans, in fall 2015.   Veterans who participate in this Executive Education program earn a non-credit certificate.  The hope is if they like the program and demonstrate the right aptitude and skills, they’ll enroll in a full MBA program.

In its first year, it attracted 11 participants. Most of its Executive Education programs attract from 10 to 30 students, which ensure close interaction between students and faculty. 

The mini-MBA program lasts one week, starting on Monday and ending Friday.  Keeping it at one week’s duration enhances its appeal, explained Margaret O’Donnell, program director for Rutgers’ Executive Education.  “We find the accelerated form works well; some are offered online (though the mini-MBA isn’t),” she said.

Rutgers hispanic outlook jobs

“When we went to veterans on campus and asked what they needed, they asked for executive education,” explained O’Donnell.  Rutgers Business School has been committed to helping military veterans transition into business careers, she added.

The program attracts two separate audiences:  (1) active military personnel, veterans and reservists in any of the armed forces but also appeals to (2) HR directors, recruiters and hiring managers at corporations.  O’Donnell said that at Rutgers Business School, “We feel very strongly that the burden of career transition doesn’t lie solely with veterans but also resides with civilian employers.” Examples of students who participated in the initial mini-MBA  program include one student on active duty who was grappling with the decision to opt out of the military or re-up and continue and another student who had requested a military discharge and was exploring career options.

To be accepted, students must possess an undergraduate degree and demonstrate several years of work experience or equivalent military experience.  “We look at each application on an individual basis,” O’Donnell cited.  The program costs under $5,000 and is often financed by the GI Bill.  

The program doesn’t target minorities specifically, but O’Donnell said that African American and Latino military personnel that earn the certificate can ignite career prospects. It also doesn’t track the ethnicity of students involved in it.  Moreover, she said that heads of veteran’s affairs offices are often helpful in working with minority veterans.

Veterans hispanic outlook jobs

Modules taught in the program include: Business Strategy, Supply Chain Management, Business Law and Ethics, Managing Employees and Leadership in Business. The modules mimic the classes taken during a full MBA program but are given in abbreviated formats.  “It gives a sampling of the business topics that are most contemporary these days,” O’Donnell noted.

As the military personnel, veterans and other students become acquainted with the Rutgers’ staff and get to know administrators, it builds a community of veterans at the college.  It also strengthens their ties to the campus and eases the transition into pursuing an MBA.  

Many of the professors teaching the program are military veterans and therefore can see issues from the student’s vantage point.  Students in the program learn to “take their military strategy and use it as business strategy,” O’Donnell observed.

After the students complete the mini-MBA, they are encouraged to work with a mentor to continue their development and pave the way for them to obtain their career goals.  For example, when one graduate had a job interview lined up, the program matched him with a mentor who was familiar with that industry.  Other students have asked faculty members to serve as mentors, so finding a mentor is flexible and operates both ways.

Ben Downing, who is 35-year-old and is stationed at Fort Dix, participated in Rutgers’ initial mini-MBA program.  He’s a vice president specializing in Capital Markets at Drexel Hamilton, a New York-based financial services firm.  

Downing spent 2012 and 2013 stationed in Afghanistan.  He applied to the program because he was interested in the exposure it offered and thought it would prepare him to take a full MBA program.  Currently, he’s starting the full MBA program at Rutgers.

In the mini-MBA program, Downing who is African American and was raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., said it “takes our military experience and shows us how to leverage what we did and translate the military background into a business skill set.”

For example, in the leadership module, he learned how to take some of the skills mastered in the armed forces and transfer it to business.  He also saw how the supply chain savvy he learned in the Army can be transferred over to business.

He found the curriculum challenging, thought-provoking and well-structured.  “We had to participate in team-building exercises and take exams.  It prepares you for the vigor of business school,” he said.

Meeting with his macroeconomics instructor Professor Lagdana whom he chose as a mentor also proved useful.  “I was able to see how macroeconomics fits into my business model,” Downing said.

Downing recommends the mini-MBA program to anyone involved in the Armed Forces who want to pursue a business career.  “The modules are designed to make you think.  You’re exposed to new areas and really learn the subject matter,” he said.  Despite everything being streamlined into a week, he calls it a “rigorous course.”

Though it’s only been operating for one year and starts up again in May 2016, O’Donnell said it “has been met with such a positive response from active duty, reservists, veterans and civilian employees — all of whom are seeking to make the transition from military to civilian careers easier.”

O’Donnell acknowledges that earning a certificate isn’t a magic bullet to success.  “It’s a door opener.  People want to know more about it and what they learned,” she said.

Though it offers a certificate, it mimics the MBA program, said O’Donnell.  “It helps participants decide if they would like to pursue an MBA because they experience the master’s level individual and team work and meet faculty.”  If admitted into the Rutgers MBA program, there’s even a bonus:  a three-credit elective is waived.

Utica College on the Leading Edge of Cyber Security Programs, by Frank DiMaria

With each passing generation the technologies used to wage war and conduct business evolve. At one time, warriors carried spears and shields into battle while fur trappers traded their goods for food. Today, theoretically at least, wars can be waged in cyberspace while compa-nies gather endless amounts of personal data on their customers, sometimes without permission.

Utica College

Both the military and corporations heavily rely on information technology. This reliance, however, comes at a cost. “Whether you’re talking about command and control, whether you’re talking about communication, whether you’re talking about gathering intelligence, recognizance, logistics…the more dependent you become on this domain of cyberspace, that becomes another avenue for an adversary to attack,” said Joe Giordano, director, cyber programs at Utica College.

MPS in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis

This past fall, Utica College, which was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education by both the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, began offering a Master of Professional Studies in Cyber Policy and Risk Analysis. This non-technical degree educates and prepares cybersecurity professionals to deal with the unique policy-related challenges present in the dynamic field of cybersecurity both domestically and internationally. 

“What we’re looking at here are things like cyber policy, compliance, laws, legal issues, ethical issues,” Giordano said. “We’re looking at a cyber future for the United States and probably the world. How do we handle data responsibly ethically?” Giordano asked. 

This wide-ranging degree addresses the ethical use of individuals’ personal information in areas like healthcare and within the intelligence community. 

Students entering the program can build upon its core courses by choosing one or both of its specializations.

The cyber policy specialization closes the gap between technology and policy by examining U.S. laws and public policies as they relate to cybersecurity. Students in this concentration take courses on cyber-space law, public policy and politics; the law and ethics of cyber espionage; cyber war and deterrence and international aspects of cyber policy. Former U.S.


Ambassador David Smith who led the U.S.-Soviet Defense and Space Talks under President George H. W. Bush designed all four of these courses specifically for Utica College. 

The cyber fusion and analysis specialization prepares students for careers as compliance and privacy officers, HIPPA surveillance monitors, intelligence or cyber surveillance analysts and data mining specialists. Data fusion, like its name implies, merges data sets from multiple sources. “You can look at it like a military term. (For example) data set A is unclassified and data set B is unclassified, but if you put A together with B, you have a sensitive or classified data set,” Giordano said. Students learn defensive and offensive modes of operation, sources of surveillance and tracking, web data mining and the legal and ethical issues important to the field. The courses in this specialization include cyber ethics and professional responsibility; open source cyber surveillance; cyber data fusion and advanced topics in cyber data fusion.

Leading the Way in Cybersecurity Programs

Utica College is no stranger to cybersecurity. It is home to the Economic Crime and Cybersecurity Institute, the Northeast Cybersecurity Forensic Center and the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection. About five years ago, Utica began offering an M.S. in cybersecurity. This hands-on, technical degree comprises four specialties; computer forensics, intelligence, cyber operations and economic crime investigation. 

The computer forensics specialty is designed for those students interested in collecting and preparing evidence of computer crimes such as fraud and cyber espionage. The curriculum emphasizes a comprehensive understanding of the forensic tools and techniques used to investigate and analyze networkrelated incidents and preserve digital evidence. 

Often the word “forensic” conjures up notions of law enforcement, but the skills associated with this specialty far exceed the realm of law enforcement, Giordano said. “(We’re talking about) gathering evidence on a network, gathering digital evidence of a cyber attack and even gathering evidence in real time as an attack is occurring,” Giordano said.

Professionals interested in cyber intelligence and counterintelligence, cyber counterterrorism and cyber countersabotage may want to pursue the intelligence specialization. The curriculum covers analysis of global and national cybersecurity policies, the study and protection of critical infrastructures and operations involving cyber threats and defense. This specialization builds on traditional intelligence functions to determine an adversary’s motive and prevents the adversary from gathering information. “It’s taking traditional intelligence functions and bringing them over to the cyber environment. It’s very, very leading edge,” Giordano said.

Cyber operations, another specialization in Utica’s cybersecurity master’s program, is for professionals wishing to protect and defend organizations from cyberattacks. Students gain the critical knowledge needed through a hands-on, lab-oriented curriculum that includes an in-depth examination of cyber tactics, techniques, procedures and more. “You’re looking at protect and defend, you’re looking at vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, you’re looking at modeling how an adversary might attack, you’re looking at things like data hiding, steganography, anonymity,” Giordano said. 


For those interested in fighting white collar crime, Utica offers a specialization that provides students with the skills necessary to investigate economic crime, which over the past decade has shifted to cyber-space, Giordano said. Utica is educating the fraud investigator of the future, he said. 

Currently, Utica has over 300 active students in its master’s of cyber-security program, leading Giordano to call the program’s intake “unbelievable.” The MPS in cyber policy and risk analysis, which is in its infancy, had an initial cohort of about 12 students this past fall. At first blush, these numbers may seem low, but Giordano pointed out that the field of cyber policy is not yet fully understood. The greater community values the technical aspects of cyber-security like firewall management and intrusion detection systems. Few, however, understand the need for cyber policy and analysis.  

“I’m not sure that the overall greater community understands where all of this is yet. [We’ve all] heard of chief information security officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer. I think that some agencies are looking at a chief privacy officer, because…you’re getting companies and government organizations that are handling large amounts of very sensitive information,” Giordano said. 

In many ways Utica’s master’s programs in cyber security and cyber policy and risk analysis are tailor-made to keep America’s military and its businesses one step ahead of their cyber adversaries.

For more information, visit Professor Giordano's webpage at http://programs.online.utica.edu/faculty/ms-cybersecurity-faculty.asp

New Report Highlights Promise of Holistic Graduate Admissions To Increase Diversity

Editor’s note: Each year Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education presents the top 25 colleges and universities with the largest number of Hispanic graduates and enrollees in graduate programs. As we continue to monitor the effectiveness of diversity programs to drive these numbers, we came across this recent report from the Council of Graduate Schools. We think it sheds new light on the topic of holistic graduate admissions. Read on and see if you agree.
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Washington, D.C. -- The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) has released a report that outlines the findings of a year-long research project on holistic graduate admissions. Supported by Hobsons, a student recruitment and college admissions consultant company, the project takes a look at emerging best practices and surveys more than 500 university admissions professionals to better understand the current state of graduate admissions at U.S. institutions.

Around the country, colleges and universities are adopting holistic graduate admissions processes in response to research finding that quantitative measures of student merit, such as standardized test scores and GPA, may not accurately predict success in graduate school and may disadvantage underrepresented, non-traditional and older students. Holistic review, also known as wholefile or comprehensive review, considers a broad range of characteristics, including noncognitive and personal attributes, when reviewing applications. Higher education leaders consider holistic review a promising practice for achieving diverse cohorts of students with varied experience, backgrounds and expertise.

“This is an opportune moment for graduate schools and programs to prepare to reevaluate their admissions processes as graduate institutions await the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Fisher II and continue to grapple with what it means to create inclusive campuses,” CGS President Suzanne T. Ortega said. “This timely report provides context and guidance for graduate schools and their institutional partners.”

Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions reports the results of a survey of over 500 universities on their current practices and emerging needs in graduate admissions; a two-day intensive workshop of researchers, graduate deans, admissions professionals and other experts; and a review of the scholarly literature. The study surfaces promising practices and recommendations for graduate institutions seeking to learn more about or to implement holistic admissions processes and provides an overview of existing resources for institutions.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Decentralized graduate admissions processes pose special challenges for implementing holistic review.

  • More data is needed: 81 percent of graduate school staff respondents called for more data that demonstrate the link between admissions criteria and student success in graduate school.
  • Articulating their diversity objectives and tying them to the missions of their institutions will make it easier for graduate schools to build a compelling case for the need to review admissions practices.
  • Holistic review is widely viewed as a useful strategy for improving diversity of higher education; early evidence also suggests that holistic admissions processes are associated with improved student outcomes.

The graduate education community would benefit from a clearer understanding of what constitutes a truly “holistic” graduate admissions process for master’s and doctoral candidates.
Fifty-eight percent of all survey respondents reported that limited staff and faculty time is the greatest barrier to performing more holistic admissions processes.

The report recommends deliberately tying admissions processes to institutional and program missions and emphasizes the importance of data-driven decisions. It also encourages universities to ensure that all students, once admitted, are provided learning environments that make it possible for them to succeed.

“While academic achievements are important, we know that long-term student success depends on a variety of factors that make up a whole person,” said Stephen M. Smith, President of Advising and Admissions Solutions at Hobsons. “We’re proud to support the work of CGS to increase access to graduate education and improve graduate student outcomes by helping institutions find applicants who are the right fit during the admissions process and then to provide support on campus until they reach their goals.” 

A complimentary copy of the report can be accessed at http://cgs-net.org/innovation-graduate-admis-sions-through-holistic-review. 

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My Doctoral Studies Journey, by Catherine Olivarez

I remember the first national academic conference I attended. It was March 2012, and I was in Costa Mesa, California at the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) conference. The September before, I had just begun my first year of doctoral studies in higher education at the University of North Texas. I had also become part of a research team where I met Mayra Olivares-Urueta, an AAHHE fellow at the 2012 conference. She encouraged the Latina/os in our team to go to the conference and learn about AAHHE. 

Catherine Olivarez, Doctoral Candidate,  Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas

Catherine Olivarez, Doctoral Candidate, 
Counseling and Higher Education, University of North Texas

I did not know what to expect as I had never attended a national conference prior to AAHHE. Once I was at the conference, a sense of pride rushed over me as I watched the Latina/o faculty members and professionals gathered promote the professional, educational and political advancement of Latina/os in the U.S. I realized at that conference that I wanted to be a faculty member and mentor other Latina/os like myself.

In 2015, I participated in the annual AAHHE conference as a graduate fellow. This experience challenged me to think about the experiences of other Latinas/os across the nation and understand how to build lasting connections with my peers, faculty fellows and other attendees. These connections and friendships have been and will continue to be an immeasurable source of support. I am also grateful that AAHHE paired me with Professor Desiree Vega, a fellow Nuyoriqueña, as a faculty mentor. Her presence and kind words are a source of encouragement to other Latinas succeeding and pushing forward.

Through AAHHE, I have been able to present my research and gain critical feedback on improving my research and scholarly endeavors. I understand how to better cultivate my presence both through social media outlets and through networking opportunities provided through the fellowship. More than anything, this has become my academic familia. Graduate school can be overwhelming, especially when there are few Latina/o faculty members at my institution with whom I can connect. My AAHHE familia is comprised of those I can call upon for assistance or when I just need a shoulder to lean on. 

As I prepare to complete my doctorate this year and prepare to transition to a career after graduate school, I am ready. Being an AAHHE fellow has equipped me with the skills, knowledge and support to tackle the journey ahead. AAHHE has not only provided me the support of fellow Latinas/os going through a similar journey but also an understanding of how to achieve my goals.