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Friday, January 22, 2021

UTA to lead national Hispanic college-to-career initiative

The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation announced in a news release Wednesday, Feb. 7, Michele Bobadilla has been chosen as chair of its new University Partnerships initiative.

In her role at The University of Texas at Arlington, Bobadilla serves as assistant provost for Hispanic student success and senior associate vice president for outreach services and community engagement.

According to the release, the foundation’s goal is to build a college-to-career pipeline between Hispanic-Serving Institutions, like UTA, and the corporations who partner with the foundation. This pipeline aims to result in career readiness for students and an immediately employable talent pool for various industries.

“The initial focus of University Partnerships will be to identify strong regional matches between universities, community colleges, and businesses working with Hispanic chambers of commerce across the state, and begin to network the entities and leverage shared resources,” Bobadilla said. “There are multiple reasons why UTA is the right institution to spearhead this effort.”

The University of Texas at Arlington serves more Hispanic students than any other four-year public university in North Texas, the release said. UTA is one of only 10 universities in the nation to achieve the designation of both Hispanic-Serving Institution and R-1: Highest Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Bobadilla said she will also work with industry leaders to cultivate paid internship and experiential learning opportunities.

“Internships are critical for career success and must be paid in order for students, many of whom are first generation and working their way through college, to be able to afford the opportunity,” she said.

UTA Vice President of enrollment management, Troy Johnson, will act as an adviser on the initiative, as will Linda Battles, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board deputy commissioner and chief operating officer.

“For UTA to be asked to spearhead this effort by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation is proof of the pivotal role we’re playing to ensure that America’s students are career and workforce ready,” Johnson said. “The University Partnerships initiative will allow universities to nimbly answer the workforce needs of students and employers.”

THECB board member Arcilia Acosta will co-chair the initiative with Bobadilla. Acosta says the initiative aligns well with the 60x30TX plan, which aims to have 60 percent of Texans aged 25–34 to have a certificate or a degree by 2030.

Currently, only 25 percent of Latinos in Texas ages 25-34 currently have a postsecondary degree or certificate.

“Our 60x30TX plan is ambitious, but attainable, especially if higher education and the business community work more closely together than ever before,” Battles said. “The University Partnerships initiative directly addresses two goals of the plan — marketable skills and student debt — which are clearly in line with our larger goal of a more educated workforce. This will result in a distinct competitive advantage for Texas.”

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