Last week, Goshen College was labeled as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. This means that for consecutive years the college has met the criteria of having at least 25% of full-time undergraduate students identify as Hispanic/Latinx and enrolling a significant number of students who show financial need.

“We are committed to deepening our relationships with Hispanic/Latinx students and their families as we work toward more fully realizing equity and inclusion for students of all backgrounds and identities,” said President Rebecca Stoltzfus. 

“As we have stated in our vision: ‘Rooted in the way of Jesus, we seek inclusive community and transformative justice in all that we do.’”

This semester, 30% of the college’s undergraduate students identify as Hispanic/Latinx, compared to 2% 15 years ago. 

“It is very exciting, but also reflects all the work that we are doing,” said Adriana Ortiz, assistant director of admissions. “We are investing in our students and families.”

This designation will help the college attract and support more Hispanic/Latinx students, improve its ability to serve all students better, allow the college to apply for additional grants and become a preferred partner for other institutions. 

“As a Latina myself, I enjoy seeing people just like me on campus,” said Isis Espinoza, a junior studying secondary education. 

“Coming from a family that couldn’t pursue higher education, it makes me proud to see Hondurans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans and other nationalities pursue their dreams and goals.”

“This is not only a degree we are getting for ourselves, but also for all those that are supporting us through this journey,” she added.

GC is the fourth institution of higher education in Indiana to be named an HSI, following Purdue University Northwest, Indiana University Northwest and Calumet College of St. Joseph. 

This designation was an intentional goal for GC for almost 20 years, becoming an important marker of progress in a continuous journey toward equity and diversity. 

“I am hoping that with this new title GC can improve their resources with Hispanic students and families,” said Arleth Martinez, a sophomore molecular biology and biochemistry major.

“I have found that many of my Hispanic peers struggle to balance school and home expectations because of our culture. Although it is exciting to know that Goshen is becoming more diverse and reaching out, I hope that there can be more resources present once students are actively involved in school work.”

Although many factors play a role in the increase of Hispanic/Latinx students at GC, a $12.5 million grant from Lily Endowment, Inc. in 2006 sparked the creation of the Center for Intercultural and International Education, which had a big impact on the GC’s focus and goals for the future. 

This grant support allowed the college to focus on recruitment and retention for all students of color, specifically Hispanic/Latinx students. 

The college started engaging in conversation with first-generation students and families who were considering college, holding Spanish-language workshops at high schools and hiring more Spanish-speaking faculty and staff. 

Currently, 55% of Goshen College students identify as students of color, Hispanic, indigenous or from other nations. 

“We receive this designation with joy, excitement and humility as the journey continues,” Stoltzfus said.